8.2 The Application of Total Lightning Detection and Cell Tracking for Severe Weather Prediction

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 1:45 PM
602/603 (Washington State Convention Center)
Chonglin (Charlie) Liu, AWS/WeatherBug, Germantown, MD; and S. Heckman

Intracloud (IC) lightning is better correlated to storm severity than cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning. The detection of both IC and CG flashes, or total lightning, enables improvements in the lead time of severe weather prediction and alerting. The WeatherBug Total Lightning Network (WTLN), created specifically for the detection of both IC and CG lightning strokes, covers the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean with a high density of sensors.

The properties of lightning cells preceding numerous severe storms in various locations of the contiguous United States have been studied and certain predictive patterns in the lightning cells have been identified. The time evolution of the lightning flash rate and the IC/CG ratio of individual cells are used to identify thunderstorms likely to produce damaging hail, high wind, or tornadoes with significant lead times before they occur. Studies have shown that early detections in the sudden rise of the rate of IC discharges and subsequent peak of total flash rate can serve as an indicator for severe storm conditions. Using WTLN lightning data, a real-time lightning cell tracking and the WeatherBug Dangerous Thunderstorm Alert (WDTA) program has been developed. The results of several storm studies will be presented.

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