Dielectric surface flashover along insulators in vacuum has been comprehensively researched over the years. However, the primary mechanisms involved in dielectric flashover at atmospheric pressures have yet to be as extensively analyzed with variable parameters such as electrode geometry, background gas, humidity, and temporal characteristics of the applied voltage. Understanding the fundamental physical mechanisms involved in surface flashover at atmospheric pressures is vital to characterizing and modeling the arc behavior. Previous dc and unipolar excitation experiments have shown distinct arc behavior in air and nitrogen environments for an electrode geometry that produces electric field lines that curve above the dielectric surface. Specifically, flashover arcs in an air environment were observed to develop along the dielectric surface. Experiments conducted in nitrogen revealed that the arc developed along the electric field lines, above the surface of the dielectric. It was also of importance to alter the temporal characteristics of the applied voltage to simulate lightning situations and investigate the impact on the arc behavior and voltage delay times. A solid state high voltage pulser with an adjustable pulse width of ∼ 500 ns at FWHM and amplitudes in excess of 30 kV was specifically developed to replicate the temporal characteristics of a voltage pulse observed when a building structure is hit by a lightning strike. Based on these results, the physical mechanisms primarily involved in pulsed unipolar surface flashover will be discussed. Additional studies regarding the effects of humidity and surface roughness on the flashover arc behavior will also be presented.