858 A Total Lightning Climatology from North Alabama to Support Lightning Safety

Tuesday, 24 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Geoffrey T. Stano, ENSCO, Inc., Huntsville, AL

The NASA owned North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array (NALMA) first came online in 2002 and has been in regular operation since 2003.  A collaboration between NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) center and the National Weather Service has led to these data being used by three regional Weather Forecast Offices in support of severe weather decision support and lightning safety.  NALMA detects total lightning, which is the combination of both intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning observations.  Being able to detect the intra-cloud component of lightning provides insight into the development of convection and the spatial extent of lightning.  These capabilities allow for NALMA to serve as a demonstration of the future GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

 The longevity of the NALMA network offers a unique opportunity to further investigate total lightning characteristics across North Alabama and how these data may be further applied for real-time lightning safety efforts, whether at the Marshall Space Flight Center or with a local emergency manager.  An initial investigate of the 13 year data set will be discussed in this presentation.  This will show trends of total lightning activity annually, by month, and time of day.  More importantly, the NALMA flashes have been combined with cloud-to-ground lightning observations from the National Lightning Detection Network.  In combination, we can present results on the intra-cloud to cloud-to-ground flash ratio, average area of lightning flashes, as well as focus specifically on lightning safety.  In particular, the average lead time of intra-cloud activity versus cloud-to-ground activity has been calculated for lightning within 10 and 20 mile range rings from Marshall Space Flight Center to investigate opportunities to improve alerting to imminent lightning.  Lastly, a demonstration of the weather display tool being developed for Marshall Space Flight Center will be shown.

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