Second Conference on Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data


Total Lightning in the Warning Decision Making Process—Two Years of Case Studies

Christopher B. Darden, NOAA/NWS, Huntsville, AL; and P. Gatlin, J. Burks, S. Goodman, D. E. Buechler, and J. M. Hall

The collocation of a National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office with atmospheric scientists from NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has afforded a unique opportunity for science sharing and technology transfer. One significant technology transfer that has reaped immediate dividends is the utilization of the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) in daily forecast and warning operations. The LMA consists of ten VHF receivers deployed across northern Alabama and a base station located at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) on the UAH campus. In addition to the immediate operational dividends, the utilization of the LMA datasets is also serving a vital and specific role in the risk reduction efforts in advance of the launch of the geostationary lightning mapper. The lightning mapper will eventually be flying on the GOES-R satellite, and the work done in Huntsville will accelerate the utilization of total lightning information at other field offices across the country.

Preliminary investigations have shown a strong correlation between the time rate-of-change (trending) of total lightning and changes in intensity/severity of the parent convective cell. It is expected that through the use of near real-time total lightning information, in conjunction with other remote sensing datasets (radar, satellite, observations), that the forecaster can achieve an even greater level of situational awareness. The primary mission of the NWS is to protect life and property. The utilization of the LMA data may prove to be a vital contributor to this mission by enhancing severe weather warning and decision-making, improving warning lead times, and increasing the probability of detection of severe and hazardous weather.

To maximize the use of total lightning information, WFO Huntsville and surrounding offices began ingesting the LMA data in real-time into the NWS Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) decision support system in the spring of 2003. Since that time, WFO Huntsville has gathered over 20 unique case studies in which the total lightning dataset was utilized as part of the warning decision making suite of products. The presentation will focus on a few specific case studies, the impact the LMA data has had on the warning decision making process, training and technology transfer issues faced by the local forecast office, and an overview of future projects involving the total lightning information.

Poster Session 1, Advances in Technology and Operational Utility of Lightning Data
Monday, 30 January 2006, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Exhibit Hall A2

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