A day before the gustiest part of a hurricane hits, nature sends a warning sign via lightning, researchers tell USA Today. A study of Category 4 and 5 storms yielded a strong correlation between the hurricanes’ intensity and lightning, making the latter a powerful gauge for places that don’t have sophisticated weather technology, the lead author says.
While storm tracking has improved over the decades, intensity measures remain about the same. Lightning data—easily available in real time nowadays—may fix that, but scientists say further study is needed before they can rely on it. “This study is heavy on statistics and weak on the physical linkages between lightning and hurricanes,” says one meteorologist.