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Lightning in Eastern North Pacific Tropical Cyclones: A Comparison to the North Atlantic
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    Monthly Weather Review, 144(1), 225-239.
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  • Description:
    As global lightning detection has become more reliable, many studies have analyzed the characteristics of lightning in tropical cyclones (TCs); however, very few studies have examined flashes in eastern North Pacific (ENP) basin TCs. This study uses lightning detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) to explore the relationship between lightning and sea surface temperatures (SSTs), the diurnal cycle, the storm motion and vertical wind shear vectors, and the 24-h intensity change in ENP TCs during 2006-14. The results are compared to storms in the North Atlantic (NA).Higher flash counts were found over warmer SSTs, with 28 degrees-30 degrees C SSTs experiencing the highest 6-hourly flash counts. Most TC lightning flashes occurred at night and during the early morning hours, with minimal activity after local noon. The ENP peak (0800 LST) was slightly earlier than the NA (0900-1100 LST). Despite similar storm motion directions and differing vertical wind shear directions in the two basins, shear dominated the overall azimuthal lightning distribution. Lightning was most often observed downshear left in the inner core (0-100 km) and downshear right in the outer rainbands (100-300 km). A caveat to these relationships were fast-moving ENP TCs with opposing shear and motion vectors, in which lightning peaked downmotion (upshear) instead. Finally, similar to previous studies, higher flash densities in the inner core (outer rainbands) were associated with nonintensifying (intensifying) TCs. This last result constitutes further evidence in the efforts to associate lightning activity to TC intensity forecasting.
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