Characteristics of Lightning Within Electrified Snowfall Events Using Lightning Mapping Arrays

Christopher J. Schultz, Timothy J. Lang, Eric C. Bruning, Kristin M. Calhoun, Sebastian Harkema, Nathan Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined 34 lightning flashes within four separate thundersnow events derived from lightning mapping arrays (LMAs) in northern Alabama, central Oklahoma, and Washington DC. The goals were to characterize the in-cloud component of each lightning flash, as well as the correspondence between the LMA observations and lightning data taken from national lightning networks like the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN). Individual flashes were examined in detail to highlight several observations within the data set. The study results demonstrated that the structures of these flashes were primarily normal polarity. The mean area encompassed by this set of flashes is 375 km2, with a maximum flash extent of 2,300 km2, a minimum of 3 km2, and a median of 128 km2. An average of 2.29 NLDN flashes were recorded per LMA-derived lightning flash. A maximum of 11 NLDN flashes were recorded in association with a single LMA-derived flash on 10 January 2011. Additionally, seven of the 34 flashes in the study contain zero NLDN-identified flashes. Eleven of the 34 flashes initiated from tall human-made objects (e.g., communication towers). In at least six lightning flashes, the NLDN detected a return stroke from the cloud back to the tower and not the initial upward leader. This study also discusses lightning's interaction with the human-built environment and provides an example of lightning within heavy snowfall observed by Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16's Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2347-2367
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume123
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 27 2018

Keywords

  • electrification
  • heavy snowfall
  • lightning
  • thundersnow

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics of Lightning Within Electrified Snowfall Events Using Lightning Mapping Arrays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this