Developing a reliable predictor of lightning initiation and cessation through radar analysis

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Greg Seroka, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Handout (2.9 MB)

The objective of this study is to develop a reliable tool for the forecasting of lightning initiation and cessation in thunderstorms through the use of Weather Surveillance Radar 1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) data. Several previous studies have examined lightning forecasting with radar reflectivity, but they have been limited to only a couple sites and most to only a handful of convective cells. The intent of this study is to produce the most comprehensive climatological survey of storm characteristics during the initiation and cessation of total lightning, which consists of cloud-to-ground (CG) and intracloud (IC) flashes. The scope will be over several years for several sites across the United States, including Melbourne (Kennedy Space Center), Dallas, Birmingham, Oklahoma City, and possibly Houston. Each of these cities has either Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR) or Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) data available, which are this study's primary tool in observing total lightning in three dimensions. Convective cells provided by the WSR-88D data will be tracked using a version of the Storm Cell Identification and Tracking (SCIT) algorithm and then compared to both CG lightning data from the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and three dimensional total lightning data from the available LDAR or LMA network.