Formation of charge structures in a supercell

Eric C. Bruning, W. David Rust, Donald R. Macgorman, Michael I. Biggerstaff, Terry J. Schuur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Lightning mapping, electric field, and radar data from the 26 May 2004 supercell in central Oklahoma are used to examine the storm's charge structure. An initial arc-shaped maximum in lightning activity on the right flank of the storm's bounded weak echo region was composed of an elevated normal polarity tripole in the region of precipitation lofted above the storm's weak echo region. Later in the storm, two charge structures were associated with precipitation that reached the ground. To the left of the weak echo region, six charge regions were inferred, with positive charge carried on hail at the bottom of the stack. Farther forward in the storm's precipitation region, four charge regions were inferred, with negative charge at the bottom of the stack. There were different charge structures in adjacent regions of the storm at the same time, and regions of opposite polarity charge were horizontally adjacent at the same altitude. Flashes occasionally lowered positive charge to ground from the forward charge region. A conceptual model is presented that ties charge structure in different regions of the storm to storm structure inferred from radar reflectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3740-3761
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

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