Rare 12-Stroke Lightning Captured by Raspberry Pi High-Speed Camera

One frame of the lightning stroke film
© Daile Zhang, CISESS

On July 12, 2012, the day when powerful thunderstorm and high winds knocked out the power on the University of Maryland Campus, Daile Zhang and her team of interns captured a 12-stroke lightning flash on campus just before the lights went out using the Raspberry Pi High-Speed Camera. The goal of this project is to use this data to validate the GOES-R Lightning Mapper (GLM) and ground lightning detection networks, like the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN) and the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN). Based on this comparison, Zhang found:

  • GLM only detected two frames with one frame around 3 ms (>frame rate) from the ground measurement. First GLM frame only had one lit-up pixel at least 30 km from the ground point. Last GLM frame had two closer pixels around 10-20 km from the ground point. But those pixels did not match.
  • Both ENTLN and NLDN were able to pick up simultaneous strokes in the first frame. ENTLN detected all 12 strokes with one additional stroke not being caught on the frame. NLDN detected 11 out of 12 strokes with the additional one not on the frame. Good match was found both in time and space.

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