AbstractRelationships between lightning and lightning jumps and physical updraft properties are frequently observed and generally understood. However, a more intensive characterization of how lightning relates to traditional radar-based metrics of storm intensity may provide further operational utility. This study addresses the supercell storm mode because of the intrinsic relationship between a supercell’s characteristic rotating updraft–downdraft couplet, or mesocyclone, and its prolific ability to produce severe weather. Lightning and radar measurements of a diverse sample of 19 supercell thunderstorms were used to assess the conceptual model that lightning and the mesocyclone may be linked by the updraft’s role in the formation and enhancement of each. Analysis of early stages of supercell development showed that the initial lightning jump occurred prior to the time of mesocyclogenesis inferred from three methods by median values of 5–10 min. Comparison between lightning jumps and subsequent increases in mesocyclonic rotation indicated that lightning can also be used to infer or confirm imminent strengthening or reintensification of the mesocyclone. Stronger relationships emerged in supercells that exhibited more robust updrafts, in which 85% of lightning jumps were associated with at least one increase in rotation and 77% of observed increases in rotation were temporally associated with a lightning jump. Preliminary results from analysis of the relationship between lightning jumps and intensification of the low-level mesocyclone in tornadic supercells also offer motivation for the future analysis of lightning data with respect to downdraft-related processes.
Weather and Forecasting – American Meteorological Society
Published: Dec 23, 2017
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