More people are killed or injured in the United States each year by lightning than by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes combined. Most are not struck directly, but rather are injured or killed by being within a few hundred feet of the strike. Lightning includes deadly electrical currents in nearby grounded objects. People can be grounded objects, as can construction cranes, livestock and boats. High winds and heavy rain from associated thunderstorms also can be deadly. These pose real threats to life and property and raise questions concerning liability.
These deaths and injuries can easily be avoided through early detection of lightning. The answer is the M-10, an accurate and economical Advance Warning Optical Lightning Detector, developed through ongoing research for the U.S. Government. This new technology makes it possible to detect intracloud lightning (invisible to the eye) 15 to 20 minutes before discharges are emitted from cloud-to-ground. The early warning provides sufficient time to clear a course of golfers, stop fuel transfer, get children off a baseball field, etc. The M-10 allows the operator to tell the difference between simply threatening clouds without lightning and those with lightning. This capability enables people to continue play or work when the clouds are not life threatening. It also warns against resumption of activity when it detects the continued presence of lightning, even when it “looks clear.”
The M-10 Optical Lightning Detector has both optical sensors and electrostatic field change detectors which, when combined, eliminate false alarms. The Detector “sees” lightning in specific clouds it is pointed at just as your eyes do – except it sees in bright, sunlit clouds when you cannot. It also can detect lightning through clouds and overcast. Hand held or mounted, pointing at suspicious looking clouds, the M-10 detects intracloud or cloud-to-ground lightning by sensing very rapid, subtle changes in light intensity. This even is verified by the field change detector; when both signals occur simultaneously the M-10 “beeps.” You know at once the direction of the lightning source. By counting the seconds between the beeps and the sound of thunder, you can also determine the distance between the storm and you (one mile for every five seconds.) In the field change only mode, distance can be estimated from 20 to 500 miles. In addition, the lightning rate (the frequency of the beeps) provides the best available measure of storm intensity (wind velocity.)
The M-10 has been purchased by over 1,000 golf courses, industrial sites, athletic complexes, government labs and other facilities. Click here to find out what some of these users have to say about their M-10.