Correlating Total Lighting to High Impact Storms: An Analysis of Earth Networks Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs) Performance over CONUS for 2013

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 4:45 PM
225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Charlie Liu, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD; and S. Heckman

Research has shown that in-cloud (IC) lighting tends to prevail in early stages of convective development, while cloud-to-ground (CG) lighting activity tends to be in the later stages of the storms. Total lightning data with both IC and CG have a good correlation to the development and severity of the storms. Lightning flash rates have been the subject of numerous studies of storm characteristics such as radar reflectivity, storm cell height, vertically integrated liquid, and precipitation for several decades. The lightning activities preceding hail storms have certain characteristics in lightning flashes, such as high in-cloud (IC) flash rates in the storm formation stage. The greater volume of strong updrafts during a severe thunderstorm results in more charging overall, leading to greater numbers of ICs and positive cloud-to-ground (CG) flash rates.

The detection of total lightning data, especially IC lightning, enables improvements in the lead time of severe weather prediction and alerting. Using total lightning data from the ENTLN, a real-time lightning cell tracking program has been developed to identify and track the properties of storm cells, such as the lightning flash rate, directional movement and speed of the lightning/storm cells. The Earth Networks Dangerous Thunderstorm Alert (DTA) has been developed based on this lightning cell tracker and is currently being used in a nowcast system.

This presentation is a continuation of previous studies from 2011 and 2012. The methodologies employed in creating the Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts and the statistical analysis on the performance of the DTAs will be discussed along with updated analysis of correlation with other aspects of lightning. The objective of this study is to provide validation of the effectiveness of the DTA, by comparing DTAs with storm reports over CONUS for the year of 2013.