Live Lightning Tracker

Please note: This is the old lightning tracker. Our new one can be found here.


Thanks to Skywatcher for providing this Lightning Tracker

Note: To view this you will need a Java plugin for your web browser. To download Java, or for more information, click here.

Don't understand all the symbols?  See below for a detailed explanation...

What do all the symbols mean? links to the "combined" output of the four detectors (across NZ) and therefore the symbols don't have anything to do with the key. In this case they indicate which of the four detectors they came from.

The detectors themselves are Boltek Stormtrackers which receive the radio bursts generated by lightning. (You can hear these crackles on an AM radio).  It uses a direction-finding aerial to work out the strike bearing and the distance is estimated from the signal strength - the PC software (NexStorm) analyses strikes over time to try to improve the distance accuracy.

However if you click on the individual detector pages (in blue just below the tracker itself) then the symbols have the following meaning:

  • +CG Positive cloud to ground strike.
  • -CG Negative cloud to ground strike.
  • +IC Positive in cloud or intracloud strike.
  • -IC Negative in cloud or intracloud strike.

To quote from the NexStorm manual:

"With regular, nonsevere summer storms, the positively charged cloud to ground strikes should be in minority with ratios of 0 to 30 percent. During winter thunderstorms (thundersnow), the positively charged strikes can dominate although the cumulative total is likely to be relatively low. Tornadic supercells in the mid-western continental US have been recorded to contain a large amount of positive CG strikes, especially during the dissipation stage." 

In other words for certain types of storm (in the US at least) you might be able to use them to work out what kind of storm it is and possibly its stage of development.

- Our thanks to Steven Graham of Skywatcher for the explanation.