Lightning Density and Overshooting Tops: A Look into the Future of Offshore Storm Forecasting
A myriad of case studies, focusing on mesoscale convective systems (MCS), were compiled to initiate the exploration of NOAA's new technology. These compliations consisted of historical data such as satellite and radar imagery, Historical data, including satellite and radar imagery, as well as the lightning density and overshooting top data, was compiled. This project focused on three storms, an MCS that formed in the Midwest then traveled eastwardand developed into a derecho just before transitioning offshore, an MCS that targeted the New Jersey coastline, and an MCS that traveled over the Gulf of Mexico. Analysis of these stystems used functions in the netowrk mapper (NMAP) to examine storm development, progression, and offshore bhavior. The lightning density and overshooting top data was gathered, then compared with other meteorological data, including radar imagery, ASCT/ OSCT data, surface observations, and microwave data.
Offshore storm behavior was a primary focus of the case studies, and the data collected revealed that as storms move over water, the overshooting cloud tops condensed and the lightning strike density increased greatly around these cloud tops. The cloud formations and lightning density contours, were found to closely correlate with wind and RADAR data, indicating that these programs hold the potential to illustrate weather patterns beyond the range of RADAR.
As this study continues, the focus will shift from MCS's to smaller-scale systems. Analyzing isolated convection and thunderstorms will verify the findings of the initial study, and allow forecasters to properly use this new technology. The small-scale storms will be used to verify the findings from the initial study and possibly uncover further patterns in offshore storm behavior to ultimately improve forecasting models over the open ocean.