155 Analyzing Thunderstorms for Improved Lightning Safety

Monday, 13 January 2020
Hall B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Jeff Lapierre, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD; and M. Stock

Lightning poses a significant safety hazard for all sectors of the nation (public, private, and government). The ‘best practices’ for lightning safety used in those sectors vary significantly but are all based on passed statistics of lightning in thunderstorms. As the climate changes and thunderstorms generally become more powerful, these statistics need to be re-evaluated so as to provide the most accurate data. In this study, we develop a lightning clustering algorithm that takes individual lightning strokes and creates thunderstorms based on their spatiotemporal proximity. We use lightning data from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network. Once these thunderstorms are obtained, we can test the efficacy of various safety protocols and practices such as the 30-30 rule. Preliminary results consisted of 482 storms from a single day and found that 16 of those storms (4%) produced a final flash more than 30 minutes after the previous. Furthermore, 8 of those storms (1.7%) produced a cloud-to-ground that is greater than 25 km from the nearest stroke in the storm with the largest outlier being 43 km, which was probably limited by our clustering algorithm. These results will help in deciding whether the current safety protocols need revision to provide the greatest safety for the public.
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