Vaisala lightning nowcasts on your platform

Lightning Threat Zone API
Hans Loewenheath
Product Manager, Lightning
Weather & Environment

Wouldn’t it be nice to complete your outdoor jobs safely when the forecast calls for thunderstorms? Or how about giving your people 30 minutes or more advanced warning to wrap up their activities and get to safety before hazardous weather occurs? With Lightning Threat Zone, you can do that! 

Vaisala’s Lightning Threat Zone (LTZ) has been part of our Thunderstorm Manager display for a few years now. Users have been able to easily see real-time in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning events, manage alarms and lightning threats, and visualize the projected thunderstorm path for up to an hour in the future. And today, we are opening up these localized lightning nowcasts (short term forecasts) for our customers to incorporate into their situational awareness platforms.

Traditional thunderstorm nowcasting relies on extrapolating the current radar trajectory into the future. But new radar updates can take minutes to arrive and there are regions around the world with poor or no radar coverage. Lightning data updates near real-time and has seamless global coverage.

Vaisala’s lightning experts, with decades of scientific lightning discoveries and unique technology developments, have used their depth of knowledge to develop an algorithm to forecast the potential for lightning and severe thunderstorms. The LTZ algorithm uses in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning activity to identify individual thunderstorms, then calculates the storm’s lightning density and change in lightning activity, and monitors for a phenomenon known as the lightning jump. 

This information feeds the LTZ output – a 60-minute nowcast shown in ten-minute increments that updates in near real-time.

Example of Lightning Threat Zone (LTZ) output from thunderstorms near Memphis, Tennessee (left) and Taipei, Taiwan (right) in September 2020
Example of Lightning Threat Zone (LTZ) output from thunderstorms near Memphis, Tennessee (left) and Taipei, Taiwan (right) in September 2020


What do you do when you receive an alert from lightning events 30 miles away, picked up by Vaisala’s NLDN or GLD360 lightning detection networks? Wouldn’t you like to know if that thunderstorm is going to come closer to you, increasing your threat of lightning, or simply pass by without much safety risk? Or if you are safely indoors when thunder roars, when is the threat going to pass and allow you to safely return to work?

Now with Lightning Threat Zone API, software developers can build this functionality into their software applications, allowing you to continue your outdoor activities while receiving continuously updating lightning nowcasts for your current location.

Add new comment