Most of us have experienced air travel delays or other aggravation provoked by lightning and thunderstorms. Yet the headache of extra time on the ground pales in comparison to the threat to ground staff at airports. Moreover, low-level wind shear caused by thunderstorms is a well-documented killer, having caused the tragic crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 on its final approach to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in August 1985. Modern lightning location systems (LLSs) now enable more precise warnings to airport personnel, as I personally experienced during a 45-minute flight delay at an airport whose lightning warning system I helped to configure.

The evolution of modern LLSs dates back approximately 40 years, when early systems aided the deployment of firefighting aircraft and crews to combat wildfires over wide areas of western North America.1 Nowadays, in addition to locating the origins of lightning-caused wildfires and helping to protect...

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