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Real-Time Lightning Tracker Lets You Keep Up on Strikes Everywhere

| July 22, 2014
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This screen shot from Blitzortung.org shows lightning strikes in North America. Click on the image to go to the site.

This screen shot from Blitzortung.org shows lightning strikes in North America. Click on the image to go to the site.

The Oakland A’s ballpark, already afflicted by intermittent sewage problems, was cursed early this morning by lightning, which brought down power lines and caused a brief power outage.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told Bay City News that lightning struck near O.co Coliseum at 4:43 a.m. Power was restored soon after that, so it likely won’t affect the game tonight between the A’s and the Houston Astros.

There were at least 24 lightning strikes in the Bay Area Monday night and early this morning, according to the National Weather Service. Almost as inconceivable: There was also a little rain. Thunderstorms came and went, along with showers here and there.

Most of the lightning hit the Pacific Ocean — 18 strikes, according to the NWS, followed by four in San Mateo County, one in Marin County and one in the San Francisco Bay. Subtropical moisture and a weak area of instability accounted for the spectacular but unseasonal display.

Here’s an NWS tweet with a map of where the strikes occurred:

But if you missed the strikes, which most of us did, there’s something even better: a real-time lightning tracker. It’s called Blitzortung.org and it’s for hard-core lightning fans — the meteorological equivalent of rail buffs or plane spotters.

The project describes itself as a lightning detection network that locates electromagnetic discharges in the atmosphere. It’s based in Germany and relies on lightning sensors around the world. If you turn on the sound — reminiscent of an old teletype machine — you’ll realize how often lightning is striking something somewhere on earth.

For more lightning tidbits and info, this is a very useful link from the National Weather Association.

It notes right off that lightning is the second-highest cause of weather-related deaths in the United States. It doesn’t mention what’s the No.1 cause, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can tell you that: Heat is the leading killer.

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Category: Environment, News, Science

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About the Author ()

Pat Yollin has written about all kinds of stuff, including wayward penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, organ transplants, the comeback of the cream puff, New York on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, a Slow Food gathering in Italy and the microcredit movement in Northern California. Her favorite stories from last year were an interview with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch, a profile of Italy's consul general in SF, and a pirate Trader Joe's operation in Vancouver that prompted the grocery chain to sue -- and lose. Reach Patricia Yollin at pyollin@kqed.org.

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