Polarimetric and electrical structure of the 19 may 2013 edmond carney, oklahoma, tornadic supercell

Milind Sharma, Robin L. Tanamachi, Eric C. Bruning, Kristin M. Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We demonstrate the utility of transient polarimetric signatures (ZDR and KDP columns, a proxy for surges in a thunderstorm updraft) to explain variability in lightning flash rates in a tornadic supercell. Observational data from a WSR-88D and the Oklahoma lightning mapping array are used to map the temporal variance of polarimetric signatures and VHF sources from lightning channels. It is shown, via three-dimensional and cross-sectional analyses, that the storm was of inverted polarity resulting from anomalous electrification. Statistical analysis confirms that mean flash area in the ZDR column region was 10 times smaller than elsewhere in the storm. On an average, 5 times more flash initiations occurred within ZDR column regions, thereby supporting existing theory of an inverse relationship between flash initiation rates and lightning channel extent. Segmentation and object identification algorithms are applied to gridded radar data to calculate metrics such as height, width, and volume of ZDR and KDP columns. Variability in lightning flash rates is best explained by the fluctuations in ZDR column volume with a Spearman s rank correlation coefficient value of 0.72. The highest flash rates occur in conjunction with the deepest ZDR columns (up to 5 km above environmental melting level) and largest volumes of ZDR columns extending up to the 2208C level (3 km above the melting level). Reduced flash rates toward the end of the analysis are indicative of weaker updrafts manifested as low ZDR column volumes at and above the 2108C level. These findings are consistent with recent studies linking lightning to the interplay between storm dynamics, kinematics, thermodynamics, and precipitation microphysics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2049-2078
Number of pages30
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Atmospheric electricity
  • Cloud microphysics
  • Data processing
  • Lightning
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Severe storms


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