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Display lightning, radar, or storm echo tops information


Display lightning, radar, or storm echo tops information 

In this topic, you learn how to use the Lightning, Radar, and Storm echo tops layers included with your regional weather subscription. 

We estimate that this will take 7 minutes to complete.

Detailed explanation 

Lightning and Radar weather layers 

Enable the weather layers on the REGIONAL tab to display information for regions for which you have a weather information subscription. For example, if you enable radar images for Europe, then you do not see radar images for the U.S.

N-Tracking provides the following weather layers:

  • Lightning: cloud to ground and cloud to cloud lightning data for subscribed region(s)

  • Radars: radar for different areas using colors to indicate precipitation type and intensity

  • Tropical Forecasts: information on hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms

  • Forecast winds and temperature: forecast winds and temperature aloft and areas of high winds

  • Current winds and temperature: current winds and temperature aloft

  • Current volcanoes forecast: location of currently active volcanoes

  • Ash forecast: images and forecast of the latest areas affected by ash

  • Jet streams forecasts: direction, speed and location of the jet stream

  • Surface visibility forecast: surface visibility.

  • Forecast surface fronts: warm, cold, and occluded fronts

  • Forecast ceiling: cloud ceiling and flight category

 In this topic, you learn about the first two layers in the list.

For this example, start with your map positioned over Florida, with a zoom of 100 nm.

 The Flight list is minimized.

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

You can always adjust the setting of the Brightness slider to change the contrast between the water and land features on the map. 

Interaction 2 Click the REGIONAL tab.

The display of lightning strokes can be obscured on the map by other weather layers, such as the Radars layers (which use similar colors).

For this example, enable the Lightning layer on its own.

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

Lightning symbols for both ground and cloud strokes are color-coded to depict age as shown below.

 Lightning strike data updates every minute.


Enable all three of the lightning layer options. 

Interaction 1 Click the Cloud strokes slider.

Interaction 2 Click the Ground strokes slider.

Use the + and - offset controls to adjust the time interval for which you want lightning information displayed. 

Interaction 3 Click the Density slider.

Zoom in to a level of 50 nm to look at the strokes more closely. 

Interaction 1 Click the Zoom in (+) button.


Not all cloud lightning strokes are counted or displayed on the Lightning weather layer. Only a fraction of cloud lightning activity is displayed. However, this is still enough data to warn you of approaching thunderstorms.  


Hover your mouse over a depicted area of lightning activity to view detailed information on-screen. 

If you click on the depicted lightning strokes, N-Tracking displays the same information in the Weather pane (in the upper right of the map).

For this example, click in the area below and to the right of the on-screen information.

Interaction 1 Click the highlighted area.

The information pane has two tabs. If the NAV pane opens, but you want to see weather details, click the Weather tab to change the display. You can scroll through the information as needed, using the scroll bars.

 When you finish your review, close the pane.

Interaction 1 Click the Close (X) button.

You have completed your brief review of using the Lightning layers. Access their sliders again in the REGIONAL tab and disable the display of lightning information for now. 

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the "global" Lightning slider to disable all of its sub-options and then move on to review how the Radars layers work. 

Interaction 2 Click the Lightning slider.

The Radars layers display current composite radar, including precipitation type and intensity for the region you select. 

Enable the Radars layer. 

Interaction 1 Click the Radars slider.

Radar images are available for several different geographic zones. Enable the ones that are relevant for your flying regions.

 For this example, enable radar images for the United States. 

Interaction 2 Click the Radar, US slider.

You can use the - and + controls to display the forecast of the radar trends across your chosen area. You can choose from Current to 175 minutes in the past, with five-minute intervals.

 The radar images use different colors to indicate the intensity of the falling rain or snow. While color schemes can be different, the most common include: 

  • Light green: light rain, or rain aloft not reaching ground
  • Dark green: light to moderate rain
  • Yellow: moderate rain
  • Orange: heavy rain
  • Red: very heavy rain or rain and hail
  • White or blue: snow
  • Pink: freezing rain or sleet or mix of winter precipitation types  

The mixture of light and dark green and yellow in this static radar image indicates a mixture of light to moderate rain.

Storm echo tops reflect the top of an area of precipitation, as detected by radar.
 Currently, storm echo tops information is available for the U.S. only. 

To determine where the echo tops for these storms are found, enable the Storm Echo Tops layer. 

Interaction 1 Click the Storm Echo Tops, US slider.

The arrows pointing out from the storm echo tops indicators show the direction the storm is moving. 

Zoom in to a 20 nm zoom level to focus on a storm in a particular area. 

Interaction 1 Click Zoom in (+).

You may also choose to display lightning strokes along with storm activity. For this example, enable the Lightning layer. 

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

Choose whether you want to display cloud-to-cloud lightning (cloud strokes) or cloud-to-ground lightning (ground strokes). Use the + and - buttons to display lightning data related to between the last 5 and 60 minutes.

The ACTIVE LAYERS pane shows all the weather layers you have enabled. You can use the Show/Hide icon to hide or reveal the list.

To enable or disable a weather layer, you must always use the relevant tabs in the Layers menu.

Hover your mouse over an Echo tops indicator on the map and N-Tracking displays detailed information on-screen. In this example, the white FL250 icon with an arrow pointing northwest represents storm JAX-R2. The storm top is at 14,000 ft.

If you click that icon, the information displays in the Weather pane in the upper right of the map.

Interaction 1 Click the highlighted Echo tops icon.

The same information previously displayed on-screen displays in the Weather pane. You can copy information from the columns of the table into your clipboard if you want to communicate it to someone.

Close the Weather pane when you complete your review.

Interaction 1 Click the Close button.

Your zoom level and other active weather layers can affect the visibility of lightning symbols. In this example, the colors used in the radar image make it challenging to see the three lightning symbols that display in the highlighted area, just below the FL350 indicator .

Hover your mouse over another storm echo tops icon. For this example, the highlighted yellow icon for FL250. N-Tracking shows detailed information about storm JAX-T1.

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the Lightning weather layer. 

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

To see how weather conditions are evolving, you can click the Play button to view an animated recording of the DTN feed of radar images. The feed updates every 5 minutes.

Display images for current conditions or use the offset controls (-/+) to view the forecast of the radar trends across your chosen area.

 You can choose from current time to 175 minutes in the past, with five-minute intervals.

Interaction 1 Click the Play button.

This image and the next provide a short preview of how playing the dynamic radar images works. 


If you click anywhere on the map while the animation is playing, N-Tracking provides detailed text about the radar images in the Weather pane.

Stop playing the radar animation. 

Interaction 1 Click the Stop button.

Next, let's review radar coverage areas. To do that, use a higher zoom level.

Zoom out to see more of the map. For this example, zoom out to 500 nm. 

Interaction 1 Click Zoom out (-).

Interaction 1 Click the Coverage areas slider.

N-Tracking shows the geographic areas covered by your selected radar imagery. Coverage areas are bounded by dotted lines. 

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the Coverage areas layer. 

Interaction 1 Click the Coverage areas slider.

Disable the remaining radar layers by clicking the "global" Radars slider. 

Interaction 1 Click the Radars slider.


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