Sunday, 22 January 2012
A Case Study of a Severe Hailstorm in Cape Canaveral, FL: Total Lightning Rates Relative to Inferred Storm Parameters
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Hail is one of the greatest contributors to severe weather damage in the United States. Detailed case studies of hailstorms allow us to investigate ways to mitigate some hail damage by understanding the relationships between lightning, storm structure and hail occurrence. This increased understanding should lead to improved warnings which would allow the public to move their automobiles to protected locations or take other appropriate actions. On 26 February 2007, the Cape Canaveral, FL, area experienced a supercell storm producing wind gusts up to 62 mph and golf ball sized hailstones. The space shuttle Atlantis was on the launch pad when the storm struck. The hail carved an estimated 7,000 divots in the foam insulation of Atlantis's external fuel tank and damaged 27 heat resistant tiles on its left wing (Florida Sun Sentinel, February 28 edition). This paper will describe the development of the damaging storm using data from the Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR) network at Cape Canaveral and WSR-88D radar products from nearby Melbourne, FL. Unlike the most common lightning detection networks, LDAR detects both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground flashes. Recent research has shown that in-cloud lightning is an especially good indicator of rapidly strengthening updrafts that are important to hail formation. Both datasets will be analyzed using the Warning Decision Support System-Integrated Information (WDSS-II) software. By tracking the evolution of different storm parameters, we can better understand how the storm developed to such great intensity and discern relationships among the various parameters that might lead to improved forecasts of future storms.