DENVER (CBS4) – Where will the next cloud-to-ground bolt of lightning strike in Colorado? Good question!
An effort to try and predict that next strike is currently underway, with an experimental forecast product now available for those planning outdoor activities in western Colorado and eastern Utah.
It’s called the Lightning Potential Index, or LPI, and was developed by forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.
The LPI provides a 60-hour forecast for potential lightning strikes. It’s updated every 3 hours and will be available year-round.
The LPI can be accessed using this link.
Currently, the LPI is only available for the forecast area covered by the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, which is eastern Utah and western Colorado.
But, after more testing, they hope to be able to roll the LPI forecast product out to National Weather Service offices in other parts of the country.
The index has four categories of risk, ranging from low to extreme.
A low risk means the potential for cloud-to-ground lightning may either be negligible or low. Isolated thunderstorms may occur, but the probability of thunderstorms is low.
Moderate risk means that isolated thunderstorms are expected within the area and lightning could pose a risk.
Areas given a high risk can expect scattered thunderstorms. Those planning to be outside should plan accordingly and be aware of lightning safety guidelines.
The highest category is extreme risk, meaning lightning is imminent in that area and safety rules should be practiced.