741 Quantifying precipitation depth using cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the southeast US

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
William Baldwin, Mississippi State Univ., Starkville, MS; and J. L. Dyer

Studies have shown that cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning can be utilized for identifying regional spatial and temporal distributions of convective precipitation due to the inherent association between cumuliform rainfall events and lightning generation. As such, CG lightning is a promising tool for improving precipitation estimation in convective events. The high spatiotemporal coverage and the relatively inexpensive installation and maintenance of lightning detection networks makes CG lightning data appealing for rainfall studies, especially when used along with existing precipitation estimation products such as the NEXRAD multi-sensor precipitation estimator (MPE). Much of the research on CG lightning-precipitation relationships has focused on the Midwest, the southwest US, and the state of Florida. These studies indicate that CG lightning-precipitation relationships vary by region, emphasizing the importance of more regional studies of CG lightning-precipitation relationships. The objective of this research is to find a quantifiable relationship between CG lightning and precipitation in the lower Mississippi River Valley, which lies within a region that receives more warm-season rainfall and CG lightning than any other location of the US. This study is unique in that it is the only one to investigate quantifiable relationships between CG lightning and precipitation in this region, which is highly agricultural and therefore sensitive to variations and distribution in warm-season rainfall. The study will utilize rainfall estimates from the NEXRAD multi-sensor precipitation estimator (MPE) and Stage III algorithms, as well as observed cloud-to-ground lightning strikes recorded by the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), to quantify the rainfall depth associated with lightning occurrences during various seasons and weather scenarios. Understanding the relationships between CG lightning and precipitation could improve a meteorologist's situational awareness of the environment and thus improve their nowcasting ability. In addition, precipitation studies in this region could aid in the forecasting of hydrological conditions that would be invaluable to flood control interests in the Mississippi River watershed, as well as reveal precipitation patterns and changes across the region that are important for this agriculturally rich region of the US.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner