J3.1 Use of Total Lightning Data at Chattanooga, Tennessee Emergency Management For Public Safety and Decision Making

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 1:30 PM
Conference Center: Tahoma 1 (Washington State Convention Center )
David G. Hotz, NOAA/NWS, Morristown, TN; and A. Cavallucci, G. T. Stano, and T. Reavley
Manuscript (1.7 MB)

Lightning is often an underrated threat when it comes to dangerous weather phenomena.  The National Lightning Detection Network has recorded an average of 600,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes per year across Tennessee during the past ten years, with over 700,000 flashes in 2011.  While attention is given to the dangers associated with large weather systems, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, lightning is the second leading cause of weather related deaths in the United States.

Given the high death toll associated with this phenomenon, several steps can be taken to improve lightning safety in a community.  One improvement in lightning detection is the relatively new network of sensors called Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMAs).  LMAs detect intra-cloud lightning in addition to cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, and combined, these observations are called “total lightning.” The NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center has been collaborating with the Huntsville, Alabama National Weather Service (NWS) office on the use of data from the North Alabama LMA since 2003.  This collaboration has led to several other NWS offices to incorporate data from the LMA into real-time operations.  Much of the research into how to use total lightning data has been directed towards improving severe weather warnings, but total lightning can also be used to improve lightning safety.

A collaborative project is underway with the NASA SPoRT Center and WFO Morristown, Tennessee assisting Hamilton County Emergency Services to evaluate the use of total lightning data during real-time operations in support of making public safety decisions for their respective communities.  The effort is starting with LMA observations, but can serve as a demonstration for future GOES-R GLM observations.  Additionally, the techniques developed here can then be used with GLM data and shared with other emergency managers.  Our presentation will share details of the project, as well as preliminary findings to date.

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