Everyone loves a good thunderstorm, but they can be hard to come by depending on where you live. If seeing a storm unfold as it happens sounds like fun to you, there’s a seriously cool website that you’re going to adore. The appropriately named LightningMaps.org tracks lightning activity all over the Earth thanks to a massive network of detection sensors, and you can watch it all happen in real-time.
The map, which draws a single slowly-fading dot wherever a new strike is detected, is fed by sensors managed by both weather professionals and hobbyists. The network consists of hundreds and hundreds of sensors located all over the world, and while it isn’t capable of detecting every single lightning bolt, it’s growing to a point where one day it may.
In areas where the density of detection stations is high — as it is across North America, most of Europe and Southeast Asia — the location of new lightning strokes (either cloud-only or cloud-to-ground) can be pinpointed with great accuracy.
If you click on the little antenna icon in the upper right of the screen you can tweak the map settings to show which stations actively detected each individual lightning stroke as it happened. Fair warning: the map can get pretty bogged down if you have all the bells and whistles turned on, so be wary of overloading your browser’s capabilities.
It may not be as cool as actually sitting on your porch while a line of powerful storms rolls through your neighborhood, but it’s a pretty nifty little time-killer nonetheless.