LOUISVILLE — The Boulder-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service has awarded Finland-based Vaisala’s operations in Louisville a five-year, multimillion-dollar contract to supply lightning-detection data.
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Neither Vaisala nor NOAA responded to requests for the amount of the government contract.
The data will be used by meteorologists of the weather service to create more-accurate forecasts and conduct severe-weather research, that can result in public safety, according to a statement released Thursday.
Vaisala will provide data on lightning collected from Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network and its Global Lightning Dataset, GLD360.
In 2016, there were 38 fatalities caused by lightning in the United States, a significant increase from previous years, according to a statement released by Vaisala.
“Having precise cloud-to-ground lightning detection helps the NWS provide accurate severe-weather warnings and improve lead times, protecting life and better serving citizens,” said Matt Jones, director of Weather, Americas at Vaisala.
Vaisala’s National Lightning Detection Network detects cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning, and differentiates between the two, which is critical to successful forecast operations and citizen safety, according to Jones.
Vaisala’s GLD360 provides lightning detection performance across the world’s continents and oceans, detecting more than 2 billion lightning events each year. The GLD360 data are useful over oceans and in regions where weather radar coverage is limited.