|Each year, on average, lightning kills about eighty-five
Americans and injures many more.
Lightning also destroys homes, sparks massive
forest fires, and ruins electrical and communications
systems, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
Detecting and tracking lightning help save property, and,
most importantly, human lives.
|Since the 1970s, meteorologists have used the
National Lightning Detection Network to locate and track thunderstorms.
Lightning detection images show where
lightning has struck the ground, allowing meteorologists to
determine where the most severe storm activity is.
|Throughout the United States, a system of
magnetic sensors and computers form the National Lightning
Detection Network. When lightning strikes the ground, the
sensors detect the massive electrical discharge. Data from
the nearest sensors is combined to locate the exact strike
location. Via computer networks, the strikes are recorded on
national maps for meteorologists to track thunderstorms.
|Thunderstorms and lightning occur most
commonly in moist warm climates. On average, in the United
States, Central Florida sees the most lightning and the
Pacific Northwest sees the least. Central Florida's hot and
humid air offers prime conditions for thunderstorm formation, and, therefore,
|On lightning detection images, negative and
positive lightning strikes appear differently. Negative
cloud-to-ground lightning strikes appear on the images as
green stars. Positive strikes appear as pink triangles.