Lake Victoria Basin High Impact Weather Lake System (Highway) Project

The Earth Networks Global Lightning Network (ENGLN) is a ground-based lightning detection network that detects total (in-cloud (IC) and cloud-to-ground (CG)) lightning using the time-of-arrival of radio signals at multiple receiving stations within the frequency spectrum between 1 Hz and 12 MHz (Thompson et al., 2014; Rudlosky, 2015; Nag et al., 2015). The peak current, time, and location of a stroke are determined from the time and signal amplitude data. Multiple strokes within 10 km and 700 ms are termed a flash. Flashes with one or more return strokes are classified as a CG flash. Flashes without a return stroke are classified as an IC flash. Beginning in 2014, Earth Networks (EN) established a network of lightning sensors around Lake Victoria, providing the first opportunity to examine continuous observations of total lightning in this region. A recent climatology of lightning in the Lake Victoria Basin examines the occurrence and intensity of lightning (Virts et al., 2020).


The NASA/UAH Global Hydrology Resource Center Distributed Active Archive Center (GHRC DAAC) continually collects the streaming near real-time lightning data directly from Earth Networks encompassing the Lake Victoria Basin region of East Africa. The data for the Highway Project are ingested every five minutes within a subset region described by a bounding box around Lake Victoria extending from 12S to 4N latitude and from 26W to 40E longitude. The proximity of receiving stations surrounding the lake adds to the improved detection of cloud flashes (and thus total lightning) to the system’s ability to detect ground flashes. The data are uploaded directly to the UK Met Office. Daily 5-min animations of lightning density at 4 km resolution are provided to the Met Office for regional NWP model validation and to UCAR for their Highway field campaign data catalog. Lastly, independent reference lightning data sets from NASA’s Lightning Imaging Sensor on the International Space Station (ISS-LIS) and Vaisala’s GLD360 global lightning network are used in the Highway Project to monitor the performance stability and trends of the ENGLN lightning data throughout the Lake Victoria Basin.
The ENGLN data used during this field campaign can be obtained from Earth Networks and the NRT ISS LIS data can be obtained from LANCE ISS LIS ( and the GHRC DAAC (
  • A. Nag, M. J. Murphy, W. Schulz, and K. L. Cummins, Lightning Locating Systems: Insights on characteristics and validation techniques, Earth and Space Science, doi: 10.1002/2014EA000051, 2015.
  • Rudlosky, S. D., “Evaluating ENTLN Performance Relative to TRMM/LIS,” Journal of Operational Meteorology, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p11- 20. 10p, 2015.
  • Thompson, Kelsey B., Bateman, Monte G., Carey, Lawrence D., “A Comparison of Two Ground-Based Lightning Detection Networks against the Satellite-Based Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS),” Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, vol. 31, issue 10, pp. 2191-2205, 2014.
  • Virts, K. S., and S. J. Goodman, 2020: Prolific Lightning and Thunderstorm Initiation over the Lake Victoria Basin in East Africa, Mon. Wea. Rev, in review.

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