Earth Networks Inc., a Maryland company that provides weather-tracking services, has received a patent on a technology that can be used to track storm cells.
Patent 8,836,518 covers a method that uses lightning-flash rates to track the cells. According to the patent, lightning cells exhibit certain characteristics that indicate the potential for severe weather.
Georgetown, Maryland-based Earth Networks said in the patent that detection of the weaker electric discharges from cloud to cloud can provide “critical” data for advanced forecasting of severe weather phenomena.
The company said in a statement that the system is incorporated in its WeatherBug app for smartphones and can issue dangerous-thunderstorm alerts 50 percent sooner than traditional methods.
The data on lightning flashes are collected at a company network of sensors, and when lightning rates exceed a certain threshold, alerts are issued automatically.
Earth Networks applied for the patent in July 2011 with the assistance of New York’s Proskauer Rose LLP.
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