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National Lightning Detection Network

0537_2008 NLDN Poster


    Vaisala's U.S. National Lightning Detection Network® (NLDN) is the most scientifically accurate and reliable lightning information system, monitoring cloud-to-ground lightning activity across the continental United States, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    • Weather forecasting: Help predict severe weather for public warning
    • Electric power utilities: Pre-position field crews for approaching storm threats and to improve engineering and design with lightning analysis
    • Air traffic control: Re-route aircraft around hazardous thunderstorms
    • Airports: Suspend high-risk activities like fueling during lightning threats
    • Insurance and arson: Investigate lightning as the cause of property damage or fire
    • Power-sensitive manufacturing and processing operations: Prepare for storm-caused power outages by switching to back-up power early
    • Hazardous materials handling: Warn personnel working near explosives and flammable materials to evacuate
    • Forestry: Dispatch crews to suspected fire starts for more successful initial attack
    • Golf and outdoor recreation: Warn players to seek safety from storms
    • Launch facilities: Monitor for safest weather conditions for shuttle and satellite launches
    Technical Specifications

    Lightning Data Information

    The NLDN® dataset product includes delivery of highest quality lightning data in areas covering the continental United States. The lightning data includes cloud-to-ground stroke information, cloud-to-ground flash information and survey level cloud lightning information.

    The lightning data file includes the following information (as a minimum):

    • Date and Time (UTC with milliseconds accuracy)
    • Latitude and Longitude (location)
    • Error Ellipse with major and minor semi axis (km)
    • Peak amplitude (kA)
    • Polarity (+/-)
    • Type of event: Cloud or Cloud to Ground designation

    Lightning Data Format

    The NLDN® data can be provided in various formats, including but not limited to the following:

    • ASCII
    • Binary (proprietary Type 97)
    • XML
    • Others as requested such as KML

    Lightning Data Delivery Mechanism

    The NLDN® provides the fastest delivery of high quality lightning data over the continental United States. The NLDN® data can be delivered in real-time (less than 15 seconds latency), near real-time (>1 minute bins) or in archive format (>24 hours). The delivery mechanism is via satellite, secure shell Ethernet/internet (TCP/IP), FCP, or ‘NOAA’ port.

    NLDN® Network Specifications

    • Thunderstorm detection efficiency in excess of 99%
    • Flash detection efficiency greater than 95%
    • Median location accuracy of 150-250m or better
    • Network uptimes nearing 99.99%
    • Data feed uptimes of better than 99.9%
    • Event timing precision of 1 microsecond RMS
    • Accurate peak current measurements
    • Accurate cloud / cloud to ground classification