Lightning Potential - BoltAlert

BoltAlert® lightning potential (high risk in magenta) and actual strikes.

Thunderstorm and especially lightning pose a safety risk to people outdoors whether they are working or enjoying themselves with recreational activities.  It is imperative to bring people inside to safety whenever thunderstorms and lightning are nearby.

NCAR has been developing algorithms to better diagnose lightning threats and prediction of such threats into the near future enabling more consistent and proactive decisions for bringing people inside to safety.  The BoltAlert® system processes radar, temperature, and lightning data to derive statistically calibrated lightning probability and lightning safety guidance for specifiable locations.


BoltAlert® lightning potential (high risk in magenta) and actual strikes.
BoltAlert® lightning potential (high risk in magenta) and actual strikes.

NCAR is working toward a better characterization of the true lightning hazard that is needed as basis for improving the safety of outdoor personnel and minimizing avoidable operational inefficiencies.  Research is underway to combine multiple sources of relevant information (e.g., radar and lightning data from more than one source) for a robust diagnosis of lightning threats.  Moreover, a nowcasting component is developed that enables recognizing lightning threats prior to impact allowing for proactive actions.  Such a capability to alert of impending lightning impacts is of particular interest to airports, sites for handling or testing equipment, fuel, ammunition and missiles, outdoor venues (e.g., baseball parks, swimming pools) and special events (e.g., Olympics), construction and open-air mining sites, utilities (e.g., energy, electricity transmission), recreation (e.g., hiking, camping, boating), transportation, and many others more.

Related Project:
Lightning Impacts on Aviation