Lightning detection network predicts storms in Guinea

    2013/11/02

NSFW    A system that predicts storms based on lightning strikes was tested in Guinea on October 22.

Developed by Earth Networks, the network uses lightning detectors installed atop mobile phone towers to pick up flashes in proximity. In-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning are tallied to predict the intensity of pending storms.

Twelve detectors installed throughout Guinea predicted the high winds and rain that swept through the country on the evening of October 22. Storms and and flash floods frequently devastate Guinea’s coastal cities.

Without a Doppler radar system, Guinea had only been relying on Europe or the United States to provide occasional data to forecast adverse weather events. The tested lightning network supported meteorological services to track storms nationwide.

This system may present a sustainable weather forecast alternative for poor countries that lack radar-based meteorological networks. One million U.S. dollars was spent to install the lightning network in Guinea; a Doppler radar system of the same scale would cost $10 million, Mamdou Lamine Bah, director of the project, said in a Nature report.

Guinea is now trialling the Earth Networks’ lightning detection system but may soon join Brazil and India in subscribing to the company’s weather surveillance services. Contracts from both India and Brazil total to several million dollars.
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