Lightning Potential Index is keeping the Western Slope safer

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GRAND JUNCTION,Colo. Lightning has been a hot topic for many here in Colorado, especially after two people were killed by lightning strikes just last weekend.

During this time of year we see more storm activity due to the South West Desert Monsoon, which produces large amounts of moisture and instability.

One meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, has spent the past several years working on a monitoring system that can predict when, where, and the intensity of the storms that often times produce dangerous lightning.

Paul Frisbie has kept the community’s outdoor lifestyle in mind when creating the Lightning potential index system.

"It’s just part of a community effort and the national weather service that's trying to improve our lightning forecasting skills," said Frisbie.

The System works off of computer models and shows in 3 hour increments what the lightning potential is for certain areas and can predict up to 60 hours out.

“It's supposed to highlight areas where we expect lightning to occur, and not only where it's going to be occurring but what time, Hopefully give you an idea of its frequency, pinpoint areas like is it going to be isolated brief lightning or do we expect a lightning outbreak," said Frisbie.

It shows the severity of lightning in the areas expecting storms on a color basis, similar to that of a stop light.

Green means there is a slight potential for lightning in the storm systems and dark green means the likelihood of lightning in those particular areas is moderate and storms will be isolated.

Yellow areas mean the risk for lightning is high and there is high probability lighting will occur in those areas.

Red means lightning will occur and the threat of lightning is imminent.
Currently the Grand Junction area is the only one using this model system.

Frisbie said he has plans to speak about the Lightning Potential Index at the next National Weather conference, where other meteorologists from around the country can see how the system has helped Western Colorado.

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