The World-Wide Lightning Location Network can monitor about 30% of all lightning strikes around the world. They currently have 46 monitoring sites that pick up the strikes. By next year they plan to have 60 and hope to pick up all strikes around the world. They believe this will be a great forecast tool for many events including hurricanes, volcanoes and for commercial aircraft. They also want to check out if the little amount of nitrogen oxides that are released during a strike affect air quality.
The monitoring systems are spaced out 1864 miles from each other. The pulse from the strike can usually travel the distance and reach one of the monitoring sites. Since hurricanes are far out at sea they believe this will help to monitor the storm especially if the intensity is increasing. From their research with Emily, Katrina and Rita in 2005 they noticed that lightning spikes when the hurricane is going to strengthen or weaken. Another big element has been with volcanoes, they noticed that there is alot of strikes inside an ash cloud from an eruption that can affect commercial planes.
Every second around the world there are 63 lightning strikes.
Have a great night! Meteorologist Kristen Connolly