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I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions on sources of near real-time lightning strike data available for download? For example, has a map of strikes, but makes no mention of the source of the data they used.

Key attributes would be date/time and lat/long (any additional is just bonus), and strikes that occurred as much as 24 hours previously are logged and available. It could be in a text/table form (which can be converted to a spatial table), but if it is in a GIS ready format, that would be great too.

I know of a couple of paid sources:

Other sources I have stumbled across:

  • I haven't figured out how to get the source strike data from the site
  • According to an 2007 blog entry, used to supply weather data to Google Earth, but the site is no longer active.

Is anyone aware of any other paid/free sources of lightning strike data?

UPDATE: Someone posted & deleted a good website for many resources of lightning data. The NWA Remote Sensing Committee. It provides a good overview of research and data providers, too.

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Just for the US? or other countries? – Mapperz Jul 18 '12 at 16:19
I am personally just looking for the US, but any global answers would hopefully be useful to future readers. – RyanDalton Jul 18 '12 at 16:21
PDF EarthNetworks 'Approximately 600 wideband lightning sensors deployed globally' – Mapperz Jul 18 '12 at 16:31
up vote 4 down vote accepted


Earth Networks Total Lightning NetworkTM (ENTLN)

"incorporates patent pending systems and methods for the detection of lightning activity to provide unmatched global IC and CG detection efficiency. It is the first integrated in-cloud (IC) lightning and cloud-to-ground (CG) detection network deployed on a global basis capable of detecting long range IC lightning at high efficiencies critical for the advanced prediction of severe weather phenomena such as:"

Heavy rainfall/monsoons
Downburst winds/wind shear
Cloud-to-Ground lightning strikes

'Approximately 600 wideband lightning sensors deployed globally' PDF

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It looks like consumer grade data is not available for download, and only viewable through They also have a "professional" grade that may have more available. Thanks! – RyanDalton Jul 18 '12 at 17:13

Weatherbug Professional has a paid lightning strike service:

  • Current Lightning - Lightning latitude/longitude, strength and type (cloud-to-ground, cloud-tocloud) of strikes that have occurred in the last 2 minutes.
  • 15 Minute Lightning - Lightning latitude/longitude, strength and type (cloud-to-ground, cloudto-cloud) of strikes that have occurred in the last 15 minutes.
  • 30 Minute Lightning - Lightning latitude/longitude, strength and type (cloud-to-ground, cloudto-cloud) of strikes that have occurred in the last 30 minutes.

See page 10 of this PDF.

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Looks like EarthWorks is the provider for this service, too. Thanks. – RyanDalton Jul 18 '12 at 19:08

Anyone looking at this question from the UK should check out the Met Offices excellent DataPoint service, which provides (for free) a lightning strikes layer (15 minute updates with 15 minute delay for processing, based on strikes per minute) amongst many other things.

All you need is a free API key and you can access up to date information for the UK, and you are actively encouraged to use the data in your own products. Most of their data is released under the Open Government Licence.

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Canada - Canadian Lightning Detection Network
United States - National Lightning Detection Network

Which together comprise "the North American Lightning Detection Network (NALDN) that monitors lightning in most of North America. The NALDN is the largest lightning detection network in the world." (though it's not mentioned if Mexico participates).

The US information page mentions formats of ASCII, Binary (proprietary Type 97), XML, KML, BUFR, GRIB and delivery options so of "real-time (less than 15 seconds latency), near real-time (>1 minute bins) or in archive format (>24 hours). The delivery mechanism is via satellite, secure shell Ethernet/internet (TCP/IP), FCP, or ‘NOAA’ port."

I didn't locate any information on how to access the data, paid or otherwise. I'm sure it's just a matter of more digging.

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It looks like both of these are operated or sourced by Vaisala. – RyanDalton Jul 19 '12 at 14:22
@RyanDalton, oops, I see I didn't read your "I already know of..." carefully enough. Yes Vaisala is somehow integral to both of these. – matt wilkie Jul 19 '12 at 22:46
It appears that "Through a contract with Vaisala, the raw data from NCDC is available only to government and military users. However, NCDC is developing several derived products that are freely available for all users." source – RyanDalton Aug 26 '13 at 20:08

At the bottom of this page there are a lot of references to additional sites in Europe and the US:

European lightning detection networks, reference links

  • WWLN Current lightning
  • European lightning
  • Euclid Current lightning, 1 hr delayed
  • Siemens Partial coverage, 30 minutes delay
  • MeteoTest Lightning in Switzerland
  • AEMet Spain Lightning in Spain
  • DMI Denmark Lightning in Denmark

US lightning detection networks, reference links

  • Accuweather Current lightning, 30 min delayed
  • Vaisala Lightning last 2 hrs, 1 hr delayed
  • USPLN Current lightning, 15 min delayed
  • Intellicast Current lightning, 30 min delayed
  • WWLN Current lightning, America
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GPATS (warning, horrible web site design) will sell you a data service available in Australia, Germany and the USA, or hardware to build your own. They have some sample data for Australia, but it wouldn't be easy to post-process.

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