Lightning Detection


Each year lightning kills and injures people, destroys homes, starts massive forest fires, and ruins electrical and communication systems causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Lightning data is one of the most requested data sets from emergency managers for both real-time monitoring and to study past events.

RENCI, in collaboration with the State Climate Office of North Carolina, is developing a lightning detection network that will locate and track thunderstorms that produce lightning and show images of where lightning has struck the ground in real time. RENCI strategically placed experimental detectors in a grid across the state. When lightning strikes the ground, the sensors detect the electrical discharge. Data is collected from these devices and distributed via the NC-FIRST Web portal.

RENCI is testing lightning detection sensors and exploring optimal deployment locations throughout the state. Six detectors are currently used to collect the data.


State of North Carolina


Ryan Boyles, State Climate Office of North Carolina

Project Team

  • Jessica Proud, project leader
  • Jim Mahaney


Institute for the Environment