look like a rooftop plumbing vent, but it’s
The white piping newly installed atop
Voyageur North Outfitters in Ely is actually a lighting
strike detection system, capable of sensing
the electrical charges from lightning up to 300
miles away, of differentiating between
cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground strikes, and
of plotting those strikes and storm movements on
a Web map that’s updated every five minutes.
The equipment was installed a week ago by
Erik W.L. Anderson of
BoundaryWatersCanoeArea.com, a Web site serving
customers of the BWCAW and area resorts.
Anderson, who also is a weather spotter with
the National Weather Service’s Skywarn
program, said the data will be useful in a
couple key ways.
As well as allowing flying U.S. Forest
Service fire spotters to key on specific areas
just hit by lightning, the system will give Web
users a way to track incoming storms in the same
way you can look at a time-lapse radar loop
Anderson said he chose John and Lynn
North Outfitters not because of its
location, but because he and the O’Kanes have
already worked together, and because his
system’s access to their computers allows the
data to be uploaded to the Web every five
Lynn O’Kane said the couple has had their
own weather station on the building for a year
and a half, which has been a handy addition to
the services they provide customers. The new
lightning strike data will be even more
“When that last storm came through, we
watched where the lighting was going as the
storm was coming in,” she said.
You’ll be able to find the lightning strike
data by using a link planned on the O’Kanes’
Web site at www.vnorth.com,
or by logging on to BoundaryWatersCanoeArea.com.