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Lightning prone Sportsman's Paradise may benefit from new research

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Posted: Mar 24, 2014 10:59 AM by Meteorologist Josh Eachus
Updated: Mar 24, 2014 10:59 AM
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Topics: weather, news, meteorology, lightning, Louisiana

The Earth System Science Center as the University of Alabama in Huntsville is using data from weather satellite, Doppler radar and numerical forecast models in an attempt to identify which thunderstorms are most likely to produce lightning. According to Philip Gentry of phys.org, the goal is expanded to forecasting the times at which lightning begins and ends. The research is partly supported by a two year research grant from NASA.

Scientists working on the project say that only basic research is available in terms of lightning prediction. They hope that this project will arm meteorologists with new forecast tools.

With the current Doppler radar system, forecasters are often able to predict lightning in thunderstorms about 15 minutes in advance. New research aims to double or even triple that time by combining satellite, radar and model data to track lightning producing storm cells from beginning to end.

Gentry reports that the team will conduct tests in lightning hot spots across the Southeastern United States. Once the concept is proven, test areas will expand across the country to adjust for regionalized atmospheric dynamics.

Over the last 30 years, lightning has been the third most common weather-related killer in the United States, taking about 50 lives each year and injuring hundreds more.

While the new technology will primarily be utilized by meteorologists, the trickledown effect in enhanced lightning prediction is expected to benefit farmers, contractors, golfers, hunters, fishers and other outdoor sportsmen.

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