Geonica SA

- Risk of Lightning Monitoring System



Although the statistical probability of being directly hit by lightning is very difficult to assess, it is no less true that innumerable atmospheric discharges occur daily around the world. For example, over 20 million flashes strike the ground in the United States every year affecting virtually every facet of our lives, from personal safety, to knocking out our local power, to impacting daily travel and communications. Measures can be taken to protect ourselves and the infrastructure around us with a little planning , implementing the Lightning Alert System.

Specifically, and as regards personal safety, this atmospheric phenomenon causes over 100 deaths every year, only in the U.S.A., with an estimation of ten times more people injured due to the same cause.

This fact advises to take the necessary measures in order to try to predict whether a specific storm can or cannot generate atmospheric discharges in a specific zone and with what probability, in order to eliminate or reduce as possible its harmful effects on our integrity and that of our infrastructures.

The objective of our Lightning Alert System, is precisely to determine said probability based on the usage of an advanced atmospheric monitoring and lightning warning device located at ground level for measuring the intensity of the electrostatic field present in the atmosphere. Experience shows that when said field exceeds 1000-2000 Volts/meter, the probability of a discharge occurring is
very high.

In these cases, it is advisable to stop or suspend certain operations or activities in a specific area around the point of measurement; however, a high value of the field does not unfailingly determine that an electric discharge will occur, but only that the conditions are very favourable for it to happen.

Although the measurement of the field is carried out at a specific point, for values of 1000-2000 V/m or above, it can be stated that the risk of discharge extends for several kilometres, in all directions, due to the fact that the spatial dimensions of storm clouds generally cover broad areas.

If the field measurement is below 500 V/m, it can be considered that the risk is low, at least for an area of several kilometres surrounding the measurement point. Values between 50-200 V/m, would show an absence of risk, as in the case of clear days with no storms.

The Lightning Alert System includes an electric field measuring device known as an Electric Field Mill sensor, due to its design (similar to a rotating mill). It is available in two versions, according to the measurement range required, and is connected to one of our units pertaining to the METEODATA-2000/3000C Series. This remote station records and transmits the data to a Central Monitoring Computer, via GSM/GPRS cellular telephony, radio, Ethernet connection, etc. It is also in charge of transmitting SMS messages to mobile phones, or e-mails to specific addresses, warning of the risk level in the case the measured values exceed a configurable threshold.

Among the more characteristic sectors of application of the Lightning Alert System, we can state the following:

  • Electric power Production and Distribution (Power generating plants, transport grids, substations, etc.).
  • Fuel facilities and tanks (Oil, gas, etc.).
  • Wind and solar power generation parks.
  • Seaports (loading and unloading fuel, operation of major cranes).
  • Military complexes or facilities.
  • Handling of explosives and dangerous materials.
  • Fuel supply to aircraft
  • Airports (safety in the operations of landed aircraft, landing and taking off operations, catering and luggage handling, etc.).
  • Heliports.
  • Golf courses, theme parks and swimming pools.
  • Radio communications..
  • Construction and civil works.
  • Open air public and sports events.
  • Atmospheric research.

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