Session 12.5 Use of high-resolution WRF simulations to forecast lightning threat

Thursday, 9 November 2006: 9:30 AM
St. Louis AB (Adam's Mark Hotel)
Eugene W. McCaul Jr., USRA, Huntsville, AL AL; and K. M. LaCasse, S. J. Goodman, and D. Cecil

Presentation PDF (293.3 kB)

Recent observational studies have confirmed the existence of a robust statistical relationship between lightning flash rates and the amount of large precipitating ice hydrometeors in storms. This relationship is exploited, in conjunction with the capabilities of recent forecast models such as WRF, to forecast the threat of lightning from convective storms using the output fields from the model forecasts. The simulated vertical flux of graupel at -15C is used in this study as a proxy for charge separation processes and their associated lightning risk.

Six-h simulations are conducted for a number of case studies for which three-dimensional lightning validation data from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array are available. Experiments indicate that initialization of the WRF model on a 2 km grid using Eta boundary conditions, Doppler radar radial velocity and reflectivity fields, and METAR and ACARS data usually yield the most realistic simulations. An array of subjective and objective statistical metrics are employed to document the utility of the WRF forecasts. The simulation results are also compared to other more traditional means of forecasting convective storms, such as those based on the convective available potential energy field.

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