There is no question that the stormscope will detect electrical activity in the absence of actual rain. I’ve flow aircraft with both a stormscope and radar and one can see the electrical activity of a developing thunderstorm before actual precipitation begins. In that case the stormscope gives you a much better and more timely indicator of turbulence than radar. I’ve also seen occasional “strikes” is areas where there are no clouds or turbulence. I’ve also experienced significant turbulence with no evidence of electrical activity or precipitation. That sort is usually mid day turbulence from ground heating and convection ot from wind shears aloft. As you know if you fly in Santa Barbara, there can be teeth chattering turbulence over the mountains even in severe clear weather. I don’t think the Stormscope will show you where it is. As far as I know the only way to detect clear air turbulence is with Doppler Radar. This measures the movements of small particles in the air that are presumably associated with bumps. That is not an option for any light aircraft.
Most of my flying is in the Midwest where big thunderstorms are common. I would not fly IFR without either a Stormscope or radar. If I had to choose between them (could only have one) I would prefer the Stormscope given the real limitations of radar in small general aviation aircraft. If you plan to venture away from the West Coast the Stormscope is a good investment.
J. Seckler SR22#63
I’m debating whether to include the Stormscope in my list of options when my day of reckoning finally comes. Out here in Santa Barbara, CA, we see maybe 2 thunderstorms a year. (We make up for it by doing 200 and 1/2 ILS approaches routinely.) I almost definitely will get the Stormscope, since I do plan on flying to convective places.
I read an article in an issue of the American Bonanza Society recently that peaked my interest. The article stated that the Stormscope has the capability of detecting turbulence, even in cases where insufficient rain has developed to show a cell on radar. The author contends that electrical activity correlating with turbulence can even show up when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. The author states that lightning only constitutes about 2% of the electrical energy in play, and the Stormscope can and will display the other 98%.
This is news to me, as I thought it only displayed actual lightning strikes. Has anyone out there had enough time behind a Stormscope to confirm these contentions?