Lightning radars and detectors are devices that work during thunderstorms to detect lightning. There are different types of detectors available. The first is a ground system that will use a number of different antennas. Mobile systems will use a direction antenna and a sense antenna, which is usually aboard an aircraft. There are also systems based out in space.
Lightning radar is nothing new. The first lightning detector device dates to the end of the 19th century. It was developed by Alexander Stepanovich Popov, a Russion physicist. This device also served as the world’s first radio receiver.
Some people though do not rely on lightning radars to examine the effects of a storm. Some of them simply follow the storms to see what happens and when. There are a few things that you need if you want to go storm chasing. The first is a good, roadworthy and relatively speedy vehicle. A laptop with radar software on it is an option but it isn’t essential. You can simply follow weather forecasts when you first start out. If you then decide to take it more seriously you can then invest in the software later.
As well as waterproof jackets and good quality walking boots, you should also make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes. Activewear items such as leggings are often the best for comfort. If you should need to run to escape a heavy rain then leggings allow much more freedom of movement. Driving around can also be uncomfortable, so leggings are a good choice for travelling in.
How do Lightning radars work?
Both the ground-based system and the mobile systems are designed to measure the strength and direction of lightning. They gather data using radio direction techniques as well as looking at the usual frequencies that lightning emits. Distance is examined by a triangulation technique. Systems that are used in space simply observe to calculate the range, strength and bearing of lightning.
These systems are employed by the national weather monitoring services in countries all over the world.
There are a number of documentaries and websites where you can find out more about lightning radar and storm chasing. It might also be possible to team up with other storm chasers so it might not be necessary to invest in storm radar software if you team up with others who already have it.
Finding out more about lightning radar is also relatively easy. There are some online maps that will show you exactly where lightning is striking at any time.