Development of a Battlefield Deployable Lightning Decision Support System

Period of Performance: 03/10/2003 - 09/09/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Weather Decision Technologies, Inc.
1818 W. Lindsey, Building D, Suite 232
Norman, OK 73069
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Weather Decision Technologies, Inc. (WDT) proposes exploratory development of a design for an integrated lightning hazard decision support system for tactical applications. The design addresses the needs articulated in solicitation topic #A02-048 for means of detection, location, imminent prediction, and mitigation of lightning-strike hazards in tactical, battlefield situations. WDT is ideally positioned to address this topic effectively. WDT has developed a Lightning Prediction Information System (LPIS) that employs Doppler radar data, lightning ground-strike location data, and model forecast information to predict 30 minutes in advance the area that has a lightning threat. WDT has deployed this algorithm over the continental United States. WDT's customers are provided very accurate predictions of lightning hazard, including specific information for a given point of the Estimated Time of Arrival and the Estimated Time of Departure of the threat. WDT has also begun to address the need stated by many of our customers to know when the threat of a lightning ground strike at a specific location is great enough to justify cessation of outdoor operations and when the threat has dissipated sufficiently that operations may resume. Recognizing that knowledge of the electric field at the surface beneath growing storm clouds is the essential component of such a system, WDT is exploring options for inclusion of data from electric-field sensors located at the site of interest. The objective of the work proposed herein is to design a lightning hazard decision support system that includes 1) electric-field-meters and local lightning detection sensors suitable for battlefield deployment 2) appropriate means for data ingest and analysis, 3) a decision-support product that integrates the localized hazard warning decision product into the LPIS, and 4) expanding the LPIS to include alternative data sources that are likely to be available for any location (e.g., satellite data). A combination of a model-based prediction system based on large-scale meteorological data, such as the LPIS, with localized information on the electrical state of clouds overhead and recent lightning detection data, is likely to provide the best decision support under battlefield conditions. The proposed SBIR development will increase the applicability of a new class of electric-field meter in a wide range of situations for which there is currently no economically feasible solution to the problem of lightning hazard assessment and warning. The resulting instrumentation and techniques will augment the efficacy of, and commercial potential for, lightning hazard warning systems that will facilitate decreases in deaths, injuries, and property damage caused by lightning. WDT presently has Airline ramp operations, golf courses, amusement parks, and other outdoor operations as customers. We will market this system to that customer base as well as expand further into those industries.