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AWS Convergence
Technologies, Inc.

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Germantown, Maryland 20876
Phone: 301-250-4000

Press Releases

Press  >  January 6, 2006 Release

WeatherBug Identifies Possible Direct Link
Between Lightning Strike and Sago Mine Explosion

WeatherBug US Precision Lightning Network (USPLN) shows lightning strike at nearly the same instant as seismic event signal that could have resulted from mine explosion

Washington, D.C. and Germantown, MD – January 6, 2006 – Following the Sago Mine disaster, WeatherBug, the leading provider of live, local weather information services, today announced the company’s independent analysis of the lightning strike data from its WeatherBug USPLN lightning network. Through this investigation, WeatherBug brought in expertise from the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences to examine whether there was seismic activity in the mine region at the same time as the lightning strike near the mine. The evidence suggests that the lightning strike could have caused the explosion due to the correlation between the timing and location of the lightning strike and seismic activity.

The WeatherBug USPLN detected a single, powerful lightning strike at or near the mouth of the Sago mine at 6:26:36 (6:26am and 36 seconds). Dr. Martin Chapman, PhD, a research assistant professor from Virginia Tech, analyzed the seismic data and found that 2 independent seismic sensors read a minor seismic event, possibly from the explosion, 2 seconds later after that strike at 6:26:38 (6:26am and 38 seconds). The lightning strike held a particularly strong positive charge of 35 kAmps, compared to a typical strike of 22 to 25 kAmps. Overall, the WeatherBug USPLN detected 100 lightning strikes in the region within a 40 minute time period around the explosion.

"The Sago Mine incident was a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who lost their life," said WeatherBug CEO Bob Marshall. "We hope that our investigation and associated data from the USPLN will help investigators to determine the final cause of the explosion for the sake of all involved. While we cannot say definitively that lightning was the cause of the explosion, the correlation of the data from our lightning network and seismic activity suggests that the events could be related."

Today, Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Glader reports.

The WeatherBug USPLN consists of a national network of 100 lightning sensors that deliver a new level of lightning detection service. The USPLN uses a Time of Arrival technology similar to that used in Geospatial Positioning Systems (GPS), and highly advanced signal processing to detect, identify and locate lightning throughout the continental United States and far beyond. WeatherBug also operates a highly granular network of weather monitoring stations that tracks weather conditions on a second-by-second basis at the earth's surface. It is used by key Federal agencies, such as the National Weather Service, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as many state and local agencies, to assist in the protection of life and property in the event of severe weather and homeland security incidents. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, WeatherBug used its proprietary technology to rebuild a Gulf Coast weather network to support NOAA and the National Weather Service.

About WeatherBug®

WeatherBug ensures that individuals, schools, businesses and government agencies receive the most precise live weather information, the most relevant weather reports, and the earliest weather warnings to safeguard property, lives and to plan with confidence. With 8,000 WeatherBug Tracking Stations and over 1,000 cameras primarily based at neighborhood schools and public safety facilities across the U.S., WeatherBug maintains the largest exclusive weather network in the world. The live, local weather conditions are delivered to millions of consumers via the Internet and mobile devices, more than 100 state and local government agencies including the National Weather Service, and to broadcast television stations, schools, and businesses. As such, WeatherBug is the #1 distributor of severe weather alerts to the public. WeatherBug data is unique as it is the only live, neighborhood weather available anywhere. WeatherBug is a brand of AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc.

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Press Contacts:

Editors Note - To schedule an interview with WeatherBug meteorologists:

Debra Eisenberg
301-250-4017 - Office
301-523-9224 - Cell

Alyce Menton
301-250-4127 - Office
301-648-5102 - Cell