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Electrification and Lightning in an Idealized Boundary-Crossing Supercell Simulation of 2 June 1995

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  • 1 NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • | 3 Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 4 NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 5 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

A nonhydrostatic cloud model with electrification and lightning processes was utilized to investigate how simulated supercell thunderstorms respond when they move into environments favorable for storm intensification. One model simulation was initialized with an idealized horizontally varying environment, characteristic of that observed across an outflow boundary in the west Texas Panhandle on 2 June 1995 with larger convective available potential energy (CAPE) and wind shear on the boundary’s cool side. That simulation was compared with a control simulation initialized without the boundary. The simulated right-moving supercell rapidly increased in updraft strength and volume, low-level rotation, radar reflectivity, and 40-dBZ echo-top height as it crossed the boundary, whereas the supercell that did not cross the boundary failed to intensify. For the same kinematic and microphysical evolution and the same inductive charging parameterization, four noninductive (NI) charging parameterizations were tested. In all four cases, there was a general tendency for the charge regions to be lofted higher within the updraft after crossing the boundary. Once the precipitation regions between the main storm and a secondary storm started merging farther on the cool side of the boundary, a gradual deepening and strengthening of the lowest charge regions occurred with relatively large increases in hail and graupel volume, charging rates, charge volume, charge density, and intracloud and cloud-to-ground (CG) flash rates. The negative charge present on graupel within the downdraft appeared to have a common origin via strong NI charging within the midlevel updraft in all four NI cases. Positive channels were more consistent in coming closer to the ground with time compared to negative channels within this graupel and hail-filled downdraft (four of four cases). Those NI schemes that also set up a positive dipole (three of four cases) or inverted tripole (two of four cases) above the downdraft had downward-propagating positive channels that reached ground as positive CG (+CG) flashes. The best overall performance relative to the 2 June 1995 CG lightning observations occurred within one of the rime-accretion-rate-based schemes and the Gardiner scheme as parameterized by Ziegler.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Matthew Gilmore, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 105 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL 61801. Email: gilmore@atmos.uiuc.edu

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic cloud model with electrification and lightning processes was utilized to investigate how simulated supercell thunderstorms respond when they move into environments favorable for storm intensification. One model simulation was initialized with an idealized horizontally varying environment, characteristic of that observed across an outflow boundary in the west Texas Panhandle on 2 June 1995 with larger convective available potential energy (CAPE) and wind shear on the boundary’s cool side. That simulation was compared with a control simulation initialized without the boundary. The simulated right-moving supercell rapidly increased in updraft strength and volume, low-level rotation, radar reflectivity, and 40-dBZ echo-top height as it crossed the boundary, whereas the supercell that did not cross the boundary failed to intensify. For the same kinematic and microphysical evolution and the same inductive charging parameterization, four noninductive (NI) charging parameterizations were tested. In all four cases, there was a general tendency for the charge regions to be lofted higher within the updraft after crossing the boundary. Once the precipitation regions between the main storm and a secondary storm started merging farther on the cool side of the boundary, a gradual deepening and strengthening of the lowest charge regions occurred with relatively large increases in hail and graupel volume, charging rates, charge volume, charge density, and intracloud and cloud-to-ground (CG) flash rates. The negative charge present on graupel within the downdraft appeared to have a common origin via strong NI charging within the midlevel updraft in all four NI cases. Positive channels were more consistent in coming closer to the ground with time compared to negative channels within this graupel and hail-filled downdraft (four of four cases). Those NI schemes that also set up a positive dipole (three of four cases) or inverted tripole (two of four cases) above the downdraft had downward-propagating positive channels that reached ground as positive CG (+CG) flashes. The best overall performance relative to the 2 June 1995 CG lightning observations occurred within one of the rime-accretion-rate-based schemes and the Gardiner scheme as parameterized by Ziegler.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Matthew Gilmore, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 105 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL 61801. Email: gilmore@atmos.uiuc.edu

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