There was a time when the most exciting thing some of us were looking to do with a map on the Internet was to look up the fuzzy roof of our houses on Google Earth. Nowadays the landscape is a lot more sophisticated, and we have access to things like maps of maritime traffic or air traffic around the world in real time.
Now, if you are more interested in weather data, specifically the storms and lightning strikes that hit the Earth every second, there is a website for that and its name is Blitzortung.
Blitzortung is not the only project of this style, but it is one of the biggest and most famous. It has been around since 2003 and has a huge real-time lightning detection network that operates as a global collaborative community.
The site has maps from all over the world, and a real-time version with an average delay of just seven seconds. It’s absolutely great and has a huge amount of additional information that you can add as layers to the map.
The map has a lot of options and four different styles. You can adjust everything from the speed of the animations when lightning is detected, to setting and removing counters, to increasing or decreasing the size of the circles that indicate impact, to turning the sound on or off.
Blitzortung also allows you to observe all the detectors that are part of the network and are scattered around the world. It’s a pretty mesmerizing website that gives you an idea of the electrical activity all over the planet almost as it’s happening.
Of course, the project always insists that they are not an official authority on lightning and storm data and that their purpose is only one of entertainment. They also make it clear that they exist thanks to open source and a community. Blitzortung leverages open tools such as The Generic Mapping Tools, OpenStreetMap, and OpenMapTiles.