With a record breaking count of 30, the northern hemisphere has seen more major hurricanes and typhoons of category 3, 4, and 5 in 2015 than in any previous season. Particularly vigorous activity in the Pacific, attributed partly to a potent El Niño, has made a major contribution.
While Sandra became the strongest hurricane to develop so late in the season in November, the year was underscored by Patricia in October with wind speeds of 200 mph. It became the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the western hemisphere.
Vaisala’s newly upgraded GLD360 global lightning-detection network provides continuous monitoring of storm events. In comparison with the other tropical cyclones, the lightning associated with hurricane Patricia was particularly remarkable. It had sustained eye-wall lightning for more than 30 hours, a phenomenon not sustained for more than a few hours in any tropical cyclone since Super-Typhoon Haiyan, back in 2013. This was regarded as one of the strongest storms ever with sustained winds of 195mph.
“Patricia is now among the few storms that show lightning in a tight circle in the eyewall. More than 90% of named systems do not. Those that have continuous lightning along the track are typically very strong,” said Ron Holle, meteorologist and lightning authority.
Vaisala’s GLD scientist, Ryan Said, said: “For the last five years, the GLD360 has provided excellent detection of cloud-to-ground lightning, and in the summer our team implemented a major change that dramatically improved the detection of cloud-lightning flashes. Overnight the average number of global events the system detects per day increased from 3,000,000 to 6,000,000. The detection of total lightning has given us an even more detailed insight to lightning associated with storms like Patricia’s.”
The recent upgrade improves the GLD360’s performance, reinforcing its effectiveness for lightning and severe weather warnings at local and regional levels. It provides valuable information to meteorologists, as well as construction and power companies (including utility and wind-farm owners) to keep workers safe and limit costly downtime. It also provides an insightful view of global weather patterns and severe weather events.
The GLD360 is used by meteorological agencies and governmental organizations across the globe, including the US Federal Aviation Administration and the US National Weather Service.
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