Mechanisms in vacuum surface flashover caused by rf (f < 10 GHz) or unipolar voltages are virtually identical. Similarities between rf (representing high-power microwave window breakdown on the high-pressure side) and unipolar surface flashover are expected in an atmospheric environment as well. Two separate experimental setups were utilized to investigate both unipolar flashover and rf window flashover under atmospheric conditions while controlling excitation, temperature, pressure, humidity, and type of gas present, all under a similar electric field-surface geometry. The local electric field at the flashover initiating points has been numerically calculated in detail for all test geometries. For both rf and unipolar pulsed excitation, the flashover dynamics are changed by the application of UV light to the dielectric surface. A UV prepulse has a distinct impact on the arc's path and a tendency to decrease the hold-off electric field. The effect of humidity on the hold-off electric field for both pulsed unipolar and rf excitations, along with temporally resolved emission spectroscopy of the flashover event, is discussed.