Forecasting Cloud To Ground Lightning Densities on the Florida Peninsula

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Marcus R. Smith, Schneider Electric, Burnsville, MN
Manuscript (533.5 kB)

Handout (286.6 kB)

Among the highest cloud to ground lightning densities in the United States annually occurs in Florida and for energy companies these provide a major disruption to their operations. These lightning strikes are attributed to thunderstorms whose catalysts are from sea and lake breeze boundaries, fronts, mid and upper level disturbances and feeder bands from tropical cyclones. The low level steering flow located just above the boundary layer is a driver for these synoptic, mesoscale and microscale features and is the basis for this study. Working in concert with the steering flow are the comparisons to it with precipitable water values, lifted indices and the K index. In analyzing the impactful thunderstorms this study examines the thunderstorm intensities based on a lightning scale using a 4 year compilation of data (January 1, 2007 December 31, 2011) as recorded by Schneider Electric meteorologists. The focus is on moderate or higher cloud to ground lightning strike densities that are most impactful for Schneider Electric energy clients in Florida. Using this data, the relationship with the steering flow is compared with the instability, temperature lapse rates, moisture depth and content indices for cloud to ground lightning densities in a 5 X 5 km grid over 1 hour of time using a minimum of 76 lightning strikes. This information is used to more accurately forecast the position and strength of thunderstorms to scale in Florida that give our energy clients the most issues for power interruptions and that assists in planning for mobilizing crews to where the highest lightning densities will occur.