The lightning tracker enables weather observers to track thunderstorms in real-time, in and around their local area. The tracker is connected to a lightning detection network which locates electromagnetic discharges in the atmosphere with the help of Very Low Frequency or VLF receivers.
The lightning data is shown on a map in real-time, but depending on server load (especially during severe weather outbreaks) there may be a delay of between 3 and 10 seconds before strikes are shown.
(CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lightning data by Blitzortung.org and contributors)
The lightning tracking network is operated by Blitzortung.org and consists of more than 500 lightning receivers located around the world and numerous central processing servers. The sources of the signals located are in general lightning discharges. The abbreviation VLF (Very Low Frequency) refers to the frequency range of 3 to 30 kHz. The receiving stations approximately record one millisecond of each signal with a sampling rate of more than 500 kHz. With the help of GPS receivers, the arrival times of the signals are registered with microsecond precision and sent over the Internet to central processing servers.
Every data sentence contains the precise time of arrival of the received lightning discharge impulse and the exact geographic position of the receiver. With this information from several stations the exact positions of the discharges are computed.