38 Early results of operational use of total lightning data from the West Texas Lightning Mapping Array

Monday, 5 November 2012
Symphony III and Foyer (Loews Vanderbilt Hotel)
Steven R. Cobb, NOAA/NWSFO, Lubbock, TX; and J. Jordan, E. C. Bruning, and J. Daniel

In March 2012 the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Lubbock, Texas, began receiving real-time total lightning data from the West Texas Lightning Mapping Array. Since then, one-second updates of lightning source data have been available in the NWS Lubbock office. The West Texas array is a ten station network centered northeast of Lubbock and provides coverage of the entire NWS Lubbock County Warning Area. Previous investigations using mapping arrays correlated total lightning time-rate-of-change trends with updraft intensities and severity of the parent convective cells. Similarly, data from the West Texas array provide forecasters with increased situation awareness of developing and mature severe weather events. During the spring of 2012 a spectrum of storm types common to the High Plains passed through or near the center of the West Texas array. In addition to warning operations, total lightning data were used to inform emergency managers and other decisions makers responsible for public and employee safety at various outdoor venues. This presentation will summarize the charge structures and time evolution from four convective storm events observed by the West Texas array. We will discuss how total lightning data were used in the decision support and warning processes. Ideas for new derived products will be presented in light of lessons learned from these events and future space-based optical lightning detectors that will be available to NWS forecasters.
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