The Florida Division of Forestry (FDOF) employs mesoscale models to aid in issuing control burn permits and in fighting fires. Florida State University recently developed a statistical guidance scheme for predicting lightning in Florida. Our paper uses output from the FDOF models as input to the guidance scheme to forecast the occurrence of lightning during major forest fire events. Statistical results of the guidance scheme are presented.
Previous studies have related the amount of lightning to rainfall totals. We have used geographic information system (GIS) techniques to compare daily precipitation estimates from the National Weather Service (NWS) multi-sensor precipitation estimator (MPE) with daily CG flash densities to examine regions of fire initiation. GIS also is used to compare radar-derived precipitation rates from the Warning Decision Support System—Integrated Information software (WDSS-II) with lightning patterns of individual thunderstorms.
Characteristics of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning, including its polarity, multiplicity, and peak current, are related to the initiation of wildfires using. This is useful since positive polarity CG (+CG) flashes often occur away from the deepest convection, e.g., beneath the anvil and in the stratiform region.
Several case studies are presented to illustrate relationships between naturally initiated wildfires and the structure of lightning producing storms nearby. Atmospheric conditions for active lightning days are compared with those of days with very little lightning. These results identify conditions which increase the threat posed by lightning.