88th Annual Meeting (20-24 January 2008)

Wednesday, 23 January 2008: 4:45 PM
The Utility of Total Lightning Tools and Technologies - Four Years of Operational Case Studies
222 (Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Christopher B. Darden, NOAA/NWS, Huntsville, AL; and J. Burks, D. E. Buechler, J. M. Hall, and S. J. Goodman
The close and productive collaborations between the NWS Warning and Forecast Office, the Short Term Prediction and Research Transition Center at NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of Alabama in Huntsville have provided a unique opportunity for science sharing and technology transfer. One significant technology transfer that has reaped dividends is the use of data from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array in forecast and warning operations. The Lightning Mapping Array consists of ten VHF receivers deployed across northern Alabama and a base station located at the National Space Science and Technology Center on the university campus. In addition to the immediate operational dividends, the ongoing work with the Lightning Mapping Array data will accelerate the use of total lightning data at other field offices across the country after the launch of the GOES-R geostationary lightning mapper.

Preliminary investigations done at WFO Huntsville, and with other similar total lightning networks across the country, have shown distinct correlations between the time rate-of-change (trending) of total lightning and changes in intensity/severity of the parent convective cell. During the four years that WFO Huntsville has had access to real-time total lightning information this data -- in conjunction with other more traditional remotely sensed data (radar, satellite, and surface observations) -- has improved the situational awareness of the WFO staff. The mission of the NWS is to protect life and property and to enhance the nation's economy. The use of total lightning information, either from current ground based systems or future space borne instrumentation, may substantially contribute to that mission by enhancing severe weather warning and decision-making, improving warning lead times, and increasing the probability of detection of severe and hazardous weather.

To maximize the use of total lightning information, WFO Huntsville and surrounding offices within the Lightning Mapping Array domain began ingesting the total lightning data in real-time into the NWS Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System in the spring of 2003. Since that time, WFO Huntsville has gathered nearly 100 case studies in which the total lightning data were used in warning decisions. This presentation will focus on a few specific case studies, describe the impact the Lightning Mapping Array data have had on the warning decision making process, list the training and assessment tools used by the collaborative scientific team, and provide an overview of technology transfer issues faced by the local forecast offices.

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