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Colo. State Installs Lightning-Prediction System 47

Posted by timothy
from the hydrogen-blimp-would-be-more-entertaining dept.
s-orbital writes "According to Colorado State's Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU has installed four ThorGuard Lightning Prediction systems for under $25,000 to help prevent a lightning-related death or injury on campus. Colorado has the third highest lightning death rate in the US, and this system provides up to 20 minutes of early warning by 'analyzing the electrostatic field within a two-mile radius of the device. When a set amount of lightning-producing electrostatic buildup is detected, a horn will sound and a yellow strobe light will begin flashing, signaling that people in the area should seek shelter because lightning is imminent.'"
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Colo. State Installs Lightning-Prediction System

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  • Hmmmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sevn (12012) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @12:47PM (#10257443) Homepage Journal
    I've seen lighting reach out 75 miles to touch a C130.
    • Re:Hmmmmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by WarPresident (754535)
      I've seen lighting reach out 75 miles to touch a C130.

      I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
      Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
      I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.
      All those moments will be lost in time
      Like tears in rain.

      -Apologies to Philip K. Dick
    • Hey, are you guys sure that God is still on your side? :-)
    • I've seen lighting reach out 75 miles to touch a C130.
      Even at the speed of light, it would take nearly half a microsecond to reach 75 miles.
      That should give you plenty of time to seek shelter.
  • by QuiK_ChaoS (190208) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @12:48PM (#10257448) Homepage
    In all the years I have been using tabbed browsing...

    As I click the link http://thorguard.com/ [thorguard.com] from above, I scared the crap out of me, and half of the IT department. I love tabbed browsing, Thanks Mozilla...
    • As I click the link http://thorguard.com/ from above, I scared the crap out of me, and half of the IT department.

      Why Mozilla doesn't have some kind of mute button is beyond me. There's one bug (24418) that's been tracking people asking about mute and/or audio controls, for like 4 years, but it's never made it into the product.
  • by applemasker (694059) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @12:54PM (#10257505)
    An excellent idea, but too late for these 30 kids [msn.com] who were injured by a "bolt from the blue" at football practice yesterday. And here I thought it was just an interesting figure of speech. In this case at least, literalism really hurts.
    • I'd like to see these systems more widely installed. Lightning related deaths and injuries are surprisingly common at athletic fields. Unfortunately, it usually takes some dead bodies before a detection system is approved.
    • Did you read either article? How is it a day late? The article you linked to is talking about an incident in Texas. I guess i fail to see how installing the lightning detection in colorado any earlier would have helped in the Texas situation.

    • ... have used a system like this for several years. With that in mind, I'm not sure why CSU's installation is newsworthy. /Don
  • Why not... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Create a device that can drain the electrostatic energy from the air before it reaches dangerous levels, and then use that energy to power devices?

    BTW... Does it seem like Colorado is a popular place around here lately? What with wind power [slashdot.org] yesterday and the electoral college [slashdot.org] on Monday, and now Lightning Detection today...
  • Why Not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TeaQuaffer (809857)
    Just install lightning rods [wikipedia.org] all over the campus?
  • Future News (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nyhm (645982) * on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @01:08PM (#10257648)
    ... shortly after deployment of the $25,000 system, it started flashing and was destroyed by lightning.
  • Wouldn't Colorado be easier to type? Or, if you're just trying to make it blazingly obvious that Colorado is a state, why not "The state of Colorado "?
  • by nusratt (751548) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @01:28PM (#10257875) Journal
    ...entrepreneurs are rushing to sell to nearby colleges, a design for a rear-weighted hat which keeps the wearer's eyes pointed toward the sky."

    Sheesh, gimme a break -- people can't use common sense to tell when lightning is likely?
    • In the article, it is mentioned that lightning can travel 60 miles from storm and strike somewhere with "clear blue sky." They also cite this as being responsible for many of the lighning deaths in Colorado.
      • "lightning can ... strike somewhere with "clear blue sky." ... being responsible for many of the lighning deaths"

        Nothing will prevent those deaths -- because that's not lightning, it's just God being "playful" with people who have done something to deserve it.

        (Just kidding...)
    • No, for the same reason you don't always know if the person next to you has been shuffling their feet on the carpet in preparation to ESD on you. You can't necessarily just look at someone/something with the naked eye and tell if it's electrically charged, and if you're seeing arcs around you, it's too late - or you're in a faraday cage.
      • "You can't necessarily just look at someone/something with the naked eye and tell if it's electrically charged"

        I was assuming -- apparently erroneously -- that the weather would clearly indicate a risk of lightning. I've sinced learned that it can come in a "clear" sky.
    • As an atmospheric science graduate student at CSU (for the last 4+ years), I will tell you that common sense around here (while occasionally in short supply) would tell you that you should stay inside from noon to midnight pretty much every day during the summer. Guess I won't be seeing you out and about if you ever move out here.

      Why? Colorado's front range lights up with thunderstorms pretty much every day during the summer. The lightning from these, though, typically stays in-cloud, but the bolts that
      • "storms that don't even have any evidence of rain hitting the ground may be just as dangerous as those with rain, so simple visible watching may not tell you any thing."

        Yes, I've already learned better and admitted my error in intervening posts.
        I'd thought perhaps the Colorado problem was just another case of people (like golfers) who should know better but can't be bothered.
        Never been there, and didn't RTFA.
        Was just being flippant.
        My bad.
        Bad, bad, bad.
        • 'Tis fine.

          There IS a bit of the people problem, but it's not cut and dry as that out here. People out here get used to the frequent storms, and not all storms seem to drop lightning, so reminding people about lightning dangers is important, too.

          Don't worry about it, though. I only noticed your later posts after I posted myself.

          -Jellisky
  • run away!
    run away!

  • Woot 2 CSU Stories in a day! Makes me not feel so bad going to a generic state college rather than...working hard.... -Chris
  • As a CSU alumnus... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chagatai (524580) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @03:20PM (#10259057) Homepage
    I can say that this is actually quite a handy thing for the school to have deployed on campus, with all of the thunderstorms that pop up in the late summer and fall. I remember one day back in 1996 when I was walking near the library on a semi-cloudy day when a bolt of lightning hit something on campus out of the blue. It had such a loud thunderclap, too, that caused me to hit the ground. The reverberation was awesome, too, bouncing off of some of the foothills. There are still people today who remember this anomaly and where they were because it was so odd. One of these devices could have been handy in that situation.

    • But with all of the thunderstorms won't it be going off almost all the time? I used to live in Colorado, and I remember certain times of year where it seemed like there was lightning everyday. Will people actually bother to take shelter, or will it be like how people treat tornado warnings in some places? Hey look lightning is gonna strike here! Lets watch-cool...zap! Another moron bites the dust.
  • by infonography (566403) on Wednesday September 15, 2004 @09:39PM (#10262107) Homepage
    would make a great weapon but the trick was aiming it.

    Go Look it up, that's your test for today.
    • What are you talking about? Lightning prediction systems?

      If it's lightning, aiming lightning isn't difficult.

      Just use a laser to ionize the air. If you have a powerful laser on a 747 [popsci.com] it makes it easier as you can shoot past a suitable cloud to the target and make it look like the target was hit by an "act of God".

      You could use a maser to ionize the air too. Not sure if such a maser beam would be invisible to the naked eye.
      • Not sure if such a maser beam would be invisible to the naked eye.
        Since the "M" in MASER stands for "microwave", the answer is that the beam itself would be invisible to the naked eye.
        (Some effects of the beam, such as heated air, water vapor, or dust particles, may be visible.)
  • - Hey Bubba, it's raining. Looks like a thunderstorm.

    - Hey Cletus, maybe we should go hide under the truck.

    If Bubba and Cletus know that lightning usually strikes during a big rain storm, then these campus monkeys should know better. If they insist on having a multimillion dollar detection device, I'm willing to help their cause by living in a luxurious condo 24/7 with a 100mbit link to the outside world and I will gladly phone them whenever I hear a thunderstorm. You can wire the millions to my paypal
    • If Bubba and Cletus know that lightning usually strikes during a big rain storm, then these campus monkeys should know better. If they insist on having a multimillion dollar detection device, I'm willing to help their cause by living in a luxurious condo 24/7 with a 100mbit link to the outside world and I will gladly phone them whenever I hear a thunderstorm. You can wire the millions to my paypal account.

      Yeah, I know your post is partly in jest. But I also get the feeling that you have no freaking clue
  • Tune to a strong station, and listen for bursts of static. You'll have a good one hour warning there's lightning approaching.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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