Sferic Maps: 4 Updates That Make Weather Tracking Better

  • Apr 18, 2019

In this April 2019 Sferic Maps product release, we added some important layers that will help decision-makers across dozens of industries make their operations safer from severe weather threats.

Image showing multiple weather data layers on Sferic Maps including satellite and temperature

From new and useful data layers like wet bulb globe temperature and current fire information to lightning cell track data, this update makes Sferic Maps an even more valuable tool for your organization.
Let’s look at the biggest updates from this release and how Sferic Maps will look different (and be easier to use!)

1. Lightning Cell Track Data and Charts

Lightning flash history presented on Sferic Maps weather map visualization tool

One of the most interesting functions from StreamerRT is now available in Sferic Maps: Lightning cell track data.

You already get to see real-time total lightning (in-cloud + cloud-to-ground) strikes on Sferic Maps along with current cell tracks and Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs). These are great when you’re trying to protect people and critical assets as storms threaten your operations. But what happens when the clouds clear and you want to know exactly what was going on?

That’s where lightning cell track data comes into play. Now you can access this information on lightning cell tracks in easy-to-read charts and tables. Not only can you see this information in Sferic Maps, but you can copy or export the table to share with others.

Just select the lightning cell track on the map and click “history” in the map data section and you’ve got precise lightning cell track data for your area. This is great for organizations that need to investigate severe weather cases or are just interested in what is happening during a storm. We’re excited for you to use it!

2. Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Map Layers and Alerts

WBGT Screenshot

The next major change comes just in time for summer preseasons. If you’re part of an athletics program or manage outdoor activities, you’ve probably heard the term wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) before. We’re pleased to announce you can now monitor it on Sferic Maps.

WBGT uses ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind, and solar radiation from the sun to get a composite value to monitor environmental conditions during exercise or strenuous activity in the heat. This differs from the heat index, which takes into consideration temperature and humidity and only accounts for shady areas.

We’ve added two WBGT layers to Sferic Maps under Surface Observations. The first is an instantaneous value, and the second is the 10-minute average.

Sferic Map also has WBGT alerting now. We base alerting on the 10-minute average reading because it minimizes the volatility of the solar irradiance which can rapidly change from minute to minute. You can set up alerts to be greater than or less than a certain value. This customization is great for organizations that have suggested action protocol around WBGT. To access the WBGT layers, please reach out to your account representative.

3. Fire Map Layers

Wildfire and smoke in a forest scene

While fire isn’t a weather condition, the weather significantly impacts the chance of fires and how they spread. That’s why we’ve added a fire weather layer. Sourced from the U.S. Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination (GeoMAC) Wildland Fire Support, these new layers aim to give fire managers the near real-time information they need to battle blazes in their areas.

We do that by updating fire perimeter data daily based on input from incident sources, GPS data, infrared (IR) imagery from fixed wing, and satellite platforms.

The fire map layers include current fires, complex point, and current fire perimeters. You can see details like the fire name, incident number, latitude and longitude coordinates, size, discovery date, and report date.

4. Box Zoom and Other Usability Enhancements

Besides adding these useful new data layers, we’ve also added a few simple yet powerful usability improvements to Sferic Maps. It’s now easier to zoom in on the location you want to see with the box zoom functionality.

Just go over to the magnifying glass and draw a rectangle on the map. Sferic Maps will zoom to that location. Now it’s simple to see the exact area you want to monitor.

Some other great usability enhancements include:

  • Sferic Maps now shows latitude and longitude at your cursor’s location
  • A confirmation pops up when deleting a custom layer (so you don‘t accidentally lose important information!)
  •  Time and date display format is now customizable

More to Come

As a customer-focused organization, one of our main goals is to ensure our solutions are meeting customer needs. That’s why we’re continuously updating Sferic Maps and our other offerings to be the most useful tools they can be.

If you have an idea for a new layer or a suggestion on how to improve Sferic Maps or any of our products, please let us know in the comments below or email us.