Insights into the nature of lightning and advances in the lightning protection system (LPS) industry are helping to redefine our understanding of the weather hazard and its impact to people, property and places.
Here’s the Lightning Protection Institute’s (LPI) look back at a few striking reports about lightning and lightning protection as shared by scientific, economic and industry experts in 2018:
Lightning “Mapper” Shares Data Previously Unavailable to Forecasters
Last May, the NOAA GOES-17 satellite transmitted its first Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). The revolutionary animation provides insight into thunderstorm formation and activity by sharing data never previously available to forecasters. Scientists say that the GLM helps forecasters anticipate severe weather to help issue appropriate weather alerts sooner. In dry areas of the U.S., information from the GLM may be of special assistance to firefighters in identifying regions prone to wildfires sparked by lightning.
Climate Change Increasing the Risk of Lightning-ignited Fires?
According to a study published in ScienceDaily, the earth could expect to see a 12% increase in lightning activity associated with forecasts of temperature warming. The study claims the U.S. alone, could experience as much as a 50% increase in strikes by the turn of the century. While the findings don’t suggest that lightning increases will occur everywhere, they do predict that increased activity can be expected in many regions—including areas of historically less lightning activity due to overly humid or wet conditions.
Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Lightning!
Researchers may have uncovered clues to the mystery behind a phenomenon known as “ball lightning.” Laboratory experiments by scientists at Amherst College in the U.S. and Aalto University in Finland led to the observation of a three-dimensional knot of atoms, called a skyrmion that closely resembles documented accounts of ball lightning. Described as magnetic spins composed of atoms in quantum gas, these skyrmion were first theorized some 40 years ago. According to scientists, future studies of skyrmion could pave the way for advancements in fusion reactors, while also helping to explain the mysterious natural occurrence of ball lightning.
Be Aware, Lightning Happens EVERYWHERE…
While working to spread awareness about lightning safety and increase education about lightning protection, LPI uncovered several new statistics about lightning and its very real fire risk. Unfortunately, most Americans are uninformed about the dangers lightning poses to homes, businesses and communities. To educate people about the underrated fire hazard associated with lightning, LPI compiled a shocking sampling of 2018 media reports in a new infographic.
Inspection Service Meets LPS Industry Needs for Quality Control
Recognizing a need for more stringent emphasis on quality control, the Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP), expanded services for third-party lightning protection review and certification. LPI-IP is the only third-party certifying organization that verifies lightning protection system completeness, proper materials and methods, code compliance and notification for future assessments; including needed repairs or maintenance. “Ensuring lightning protection compliance to national safety standards and project specifications is an essential part of quality control for construction managers, property owners and building occupants,” explained Tim Harger, LPI-IP program manager. Quality control and standard compliance may be two important reasons why LPI-IP’s services are increasingly in demand in the marketplace.
Grant Helps Protect African’s Most Vulnerable from Lightning
The Ludwick Family Foundation announced it will provide a $99,000 grant to the African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network (ACLENET) to install lightning protection systems at Uganda schools and provide education to help African teachers, students and parents better understand lightning’s dangers and prepare themselves against its threat. Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, managing director for ACLENET described a “tremendous” outpouring of support from donors and volunteers assisting with the organization’s mission to protect Africa’s most vulnerable from the deadly lightning threat.
Lightning Included in “Big Weather” Conversation at NDRC
LPI was among presenters from organizations such as FEMA, IBHS, ICC, NOAA, NWS, Smart Home America, State Farm, The Weather Channel and others at the 2018 National Disaster Resilience Conference (NDRC) in Clearwater, FL. Communications director, Kimberly Loehr joined the panel of “Big Practice” experts at the NDRC in November to share a presentation about the growth of LPI’s “Build & Protect” initiative and how lightning protection systems are helping to further community level resilience.
Lightning Zaps Football Fun for Players and Fans
In what may have been the first in the history of sporting events, the First Responder Bowl game was ruled a no contest after lightning forced the cancellation of the football match-up between Boston College and Boise State on December 26. Play in Dallas was halted in the first quarter when lightning activity prompted officials to clear the field. After a 90 minute delay, officials called the game due to weather forecasts calling for persistent thunderstorm activity in the area.
Forecast Calls for Growth in the Global LPS Market
Research released by the global lightning protection system market cites pronounced growth expected for the industry in upcoming years. With lightning protection systems increasingly employed for buildings, homes, medical facilities, military compounds, factories, towers and even the Space Shuttle’s launch pad, the LPS industry is seeing record-breaking growth. And as more buildings are equipped with sensitive electronics and automated “smart” systems, the demand for LPS is likely to continue its increase.
Lightning’s Future File
It doesn’t take a psychic to know that if lightning events become more frequent, the likeliness of being affected by the weather peril that already affects the most people, most of the time, in the most places of the U.S., will also increase. Understanding the lightning threat and preparing people, property and places for the increased risk may be more critical in the future, than ever before.
The Lightning Protection Institute is a not-for-profit nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.