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Total Lightning Signatures of Thunderstorm Intensity over North Texas. Part II: Mesoscale Convective Systems

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  • 1 Department of Earth Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, New York
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

Total lightning data from the Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR II) research network in addition to cloud-to-ground flash data from the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and data from the Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas, Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) station (KFWS) were examined from individual cells within mesoscale convective systems that crossed the Dallas–Fort Worth region on 13 October 2001, 27 May 2002, and 16 June 2002. LDAR II source density contours were comma shaped, in association with severe wind events within mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) on 13 October 2001 and 27 May 2002. This signature is similar to the radar reflectivity bow echo. The source density comma shape was apparent 15 min prior to a severe wind report and lasted more than 20 min during the 13 October storm. Consistent relationships between severe straight-line winds, radar, and lightning storm cell characteristics (e.g., lightning heights) were not found for cells within MCSs as was the case for severe weather in supercells in Part I of this study. Cell interactions within MCSs are believed to weaken these relationships as reflectivity and lightning from nearby storms contaminate the cells of interest. Another hypothesis for these weak relations is that system, not individual cell, processes are responsible for severe straight-line winds at the surface. Analysis of the total lightning structure of the 13 October 2001 MCS showed downward-sloping source density contours behind the main convective line into the stratiform region. This further supports a charge advection mechanism in developing the stratiform charge structure. Bimodal vertical source density distributions were observed within MCS convection close to the center of the LDAR II network, while the lower mode was not detected at increasing range.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Scott M. Steiger, Dept. of Earth Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126. Email: steiger@oswego.edu

Abstract

Total lightning data from the Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR II) research network in addition to cloud-to-ground flash data from the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and data from the Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas, Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) station (KFWS) were examined from individual cells within mesoscale convective systems that crossed the Dallas–Fort Worth region on 13 October 2001, 27 May 2002, and 16 June 2002. LDAR II source density contours were comma shaped, in association with severe wind events within mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) on 13 October 2001 and 27 May 2002. This signature is similar to the radar reflectivity bow echo. The source density comma shape was apparent 15 min prior to a severe wind report and lasted more than 20 min during the 13 October storm. Consistent relationships between severe straight-line winds, radar, and lightning storm cell characteristics (e.g., lightning heights) were not found for cells within MCSs as was the case for severe weather in supercells in Part I of this study. Cell interactions within MCSs are believed to weaken these relationships as reflectivity and lightning from nearby storms contaminate the cells of interest. Another hypothesis for these weak relations is that system, not individual cell, processes are responsible for severe straight-line winds at the surface. Analysis of the total lightning structure of the 13 October 2001 MCS showed downward-sloping source density contours behind the main convective line into the stratiform region. This further supports a charge advection mechanism in developing the stratiform charge structure. Bimodal vertical source density distributions were observed within MCS convection close to the center of the LDAR II network, while the lower mode was not detected at increasing range.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Scott M. Steiger, Dept. of Earth Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126. Email: steiger@oswego.edu

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