| Lightning characteristics of derecho producing mesoscale convective systems - :15242 | National Weather Service (NWS)
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Lightning characteristics of derecho producing mesoscale convective systems
  • Published Date:
    2016
  • Source:
    Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 128(3), 303-314.
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  • Description:
    Derechos, or widespread, convectively induced wind storms, are a common warm season phenomenon in the Central and Eastern United States. These damaging and severe weather events are known to sweep quickly across large spatial regions of more than 400 km and produce wind speeds exceeding 121 km h(-1). Although extensive research concerning derechos and their parent mesoscale convective systems already exists, there have been few investigations of the spatial and temporal distribution of associated cloud-to-ground lightning with these events. This study analyzes twenty warm season (May through August) derecho events between 2003 and 2013 in an effort to discern their lightning characteristics. Data used in the study included cloud-to-ground flash data derived from the National Lightning Detection Network, WSR-88D imagery from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and damaging wind report data obtained from the Storm Prediction Center. A spatial and temporal analysis was conducted by incorporating these data into a geographic information system to determine the distribution and lightning characteristics of the environments of derecho producing mesoscale convective systems. Primary foci of this research include: (1) finding the approximate size of the lightning activity region for individual and combined event(s); (2) determining the intensity of each event by examining the density and polarity of lightning flashes; (3) locating areas of highest lightning flash density; and (4) to provide a lightning spatial analysis that outlines the temporal and spatial distribution of flash activity for particularly strong derecho producing thunderstorm episodes.

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