Changes in the vertical component of the electric field as measured at the surface by field meters have been previously correlated to lightning strikes; however, the use of an analysis of the spatial variability of the electric field as a predictor of cloud-to-ground lightning (and eventually its cessation) is virtually non-existent on an operational basis and will be the focus of this study.
First, this paper discusses the creation of electric field analyses in real time. Barnes analysis and temporal averaging are employed to balance the high temporal resolution necessary to resolve lightning events with the computational restraints of a real-time product. Next, case studies of the passage of both lightning producing and non-lightning producing storms are examined to assess the correlation between the electric field structure and subsequent lightning strikes. The spatial variability of the magnitude, gradient, derivative, and Laplacian of electric field are examined as potential precursors. Finally, the results of the case study are applied to other cases for verification and comparison. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase lead time for lightning forecasts to allow more personnel to take shelter, while simultaneously eliminating down time due to non-lightning producing storms.