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Lightning Products and Services

NCDC provides verified lightning damage and casualty reports as well as lightning flash data recorded from lightning detection sensors. The lightning flash data is available through a partnership with Vaisala and cooperative effort with the U.S. Air Force 14th Weather Squadron and contains an archive of the Vaisala National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) data from 1986 to present. 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. These products include summaries of lightning flashes by county and state as well as gridded lightning frequency products. The products are produced as standard formats, including NetCDF, and are available by direct download and web services. The web services provide the ability to subset the data both spatially and temporally. The NLDN dataset is available for the continental United States.

Damage and Casualty Reports

Damage and casualty reports are available from the NCDC Storm Events Database.

Raw Flash Data Access

The raw data from NCDC are available only to government and military users. Please email ncdc.orders@noaa.gov to request access and documentation.

Tile Summaries

The number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes is summarized for each day in 0.10-degree tiles. These tiles are part of the NCDC Severe Weather Data Inventory and are accessible from a basic Google Maps-based search tool as well as simple, URL-based RESTful web services.

County and State Summaries (PROTOTYPE)

The number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes is calculated for each day for all U.S. counties and states. These summary reports are generated as part of the NCDC Severe Weather Data Inventory, and they contain counts of severe storm attributes detected by algorithms in the NEXRAD Weather Radar network. The summary reports are in CSV text format and are available via FTP or HTTP.

Gridded Summaries (PROTOTYPE)

The number of cloud-to-ground lightning flashes is calculated for each day, month, and year as well as for the 1986-to-present period of record. Additionally, the number of flashes is calculated for each hour and summarized by month, year, and period of record. Grids are also created to show only positive polarity flashes for all time periods. The summary grids are defined as a 4 km Albers Equal Area grid, fit to the continental United States, and are available in NetCDF format from FTP and THREDDS.

The THREDDS Data Server provides aggregations to efficiently organize the many data files into single virtual files representing multiple variables and times merged together. Web services are available to access the Gridded Summaries using OPeNDAP, WMS, and WCS. The NetCDF Subset Service allows the download of geographic and temporal subsets in the NetCDF format as well as single grid cell time-series extraction in CSV, XML, or NetCDF formats.