Earlier this year, SPoRT in collaboration with the GOES-R Proving Ground, New Mexico Tech (developers of LMA technology), and Colorado State University (owner of the Colorado LMA), worked to gain access to the real-time data feed from the Colorado Lightning Mapping Arary. In addition to helping the GOES-R Proving Ground, SPoRT is helping provide these data to WFOs Boulder and Cheyenne. As we finalize these efforts the data have been displayed in a Google Earth web page, in addition to New Mexico Tech’s main page. While observing the lightning in Colorado this afternoon, an interesting flash was observed around 1928 UTC.
First, here is a screen capture of the radar from WFO Boulder’s web page (Figure 1) at 1925 UTC. We can see a strong cell (circled) southwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. Of particular note is the low reflectivity values extending eastward towards Greeley, Colorado.
Switching to the Colorado LMA source density display (Figure 2) at 1927 UTC, we can see some total lightning activity (~21-30 sources). This is an electrically active storm, but is not undergoing a lightning jump that would indicate severe weather. Let’s step ahead one more minute.
Figure 3 shows the source densities again, but now for 1928 UTC. Circled here is a single flash that originated from the storm southwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. A rough estimate of the distance is ~25 miles. This demonstrates an important lightning safety feature of total lightning. These types of observations provide strong visual evidence that flashes are not always confined to the core of the storm. This is very useful for educating individuals why you should stay indoors for 30 minutes after the last flash, even when the main body of the storm has passed.