Variations in Operational Total Lightning Visualizations

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:00 AM
225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Brian C. Carcione, NOAA/NWSFO, Huntsville, AL; and G. T. Stano and K. D. White
Manuscript (431.6 kB)

The NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center began furnishing total lightning information to National Weather Service weather forecast offices (WFOs) in 2003. WFOs were originally supplied with source density data on a fixed grid, since real-time operational demands did not permit the combining of sources into flashes or the assignment of flashes per storm as in many research applications. However, much has changed since the original operational transition in 2003. The advent of faster computers, increased bandwidth, and increased software flexibility now permit additional visualizations on an operational scale. New partnerships have been formed among new total lightning networks, SPoRT, and affected WFOs. New, operationally-oriented research focusing on total lightning flash rates and rates-of-change are garnering significant interest in the operational community. Most importantly, the impending launch of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard GOES-R also requires that those already familiar with total lightning can properly understand and apply new total lightning data types.

To that end, some forecasters at WFO Huntsville, Alabama, in addition to a few other WFOs, began examining flash extent density data in addition to the traditional source density products. Some of the observations surprised even seasoned forecasters who understood the difference in underlying methodologies. Forecasters found that even modest adjustments which did not affect the underlying data impacted their interpretation significantly. Some of these impacts stem from variations in experience; WFOs which had generally less experience with total lightning encountered very different concerns with the varying operational data types.

This presentation will explore some issues discovered while testing different operational data types (i.e., flash extent density versus source density) and visualization techniques (i.e., color curves, software versions). Potential impacts of these variations on the operational meteorologist will also be discussed.