Fourth Conference on the Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data


An Operational Perspective of Total Lightning Information

David J. Nadler, NOAA/NWS, Huntsville, AL; and C. B. Darden, G. T. Stano, and D. Buechler

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 provided immediate benefits to NWS forecast and warning operations is the use of data from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array. This network consists of ten VHF receivers deployed across northern Alabama and a base station located at the National Space Science and Technology Center.

Preliminary investigations done at WFO Huntsville, along with other similar total lightning networks across the country, have shown distinct correlations between the time rate-of-change of total lightning and trends in intensity/severity of the parent convective cell. Since May 2003 when WFO HUN began receiving these data - in conjunction with other more traditional remotely sensed data (radar, satellite, and surface observations) -- have improved the situational awareness of the WFO staff. The use of total lightning information, either from current ground based systems or future space borne instrumentation, may substantially contribute to the NWS mission, by enhancing severe weather warning and decision-making processes.

Operational use of the data has been maximized at WFO Huntsville through a process that includes forecaster training, product implementation, and post event analysis and assessments. Since receiving these data, over 50 surveys have been completed highlighting the use of total lightning information during significant events across the Tennessee Valley. In addition, around 150 specific cases of interest have been archived for collaborative post storm analysis. From these datasets, detailed trending information from radar and total lightning can be compared to corresponding damage reports. This presentation will emphasize the effective use of total lightning information in warning decision making along with best practices for implementation of new technologies into operations.

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Poster Session 1, Lightning Prediction and Operational Applications
Monday, 12 January 2009, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Hall 5

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