E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology

E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology, Vol 4, No 2 (2009)

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Total Lightning Observations of Supercells over North Central Texas

Christopher Michael McKinney, Lawrence D. Carey, Gregory Patrick


As part of a collaborative research project between Texas A&M University and the NOAA/NWS Fort Worth/Dallas Weather Forecast Office, total lightning observations from Vaisala's Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR II) network have been used to supplement Doppler radar measurements in the diagnosis of thunderstorm updraft strength and analysis of severe weather potential.  More specifically, initial observations of severe convection over north-central Texas for three case dates have shown that total lightning flash extent density (FED) and gridded source density peaked prior to, or increased during reported severe weather events.  Two lightning holes were observed with one supercell, and numerous FED notches were noted with other cells that likely indicated the updraft region of the thunderstorms.  These signatures in the FED corresponded to weak echo regions on the KFWS WSR-88D radar reflectivity data.  Additionally, lightning appendages developed for both right- and left- deviant cells prior to shifts in radar-inferred cell track, indicating a possible method for prediction of right or left hand deflections in supercell motion.  A cell embedded within a linear MCS also developed a large notch in the FED data on its rear flank that persisted for over 25 min and preceded a severe wind report, indicating another potential forecasting application of total lightning data.

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E-Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology | ISSN 1559-5404 | Some Rights Reserved