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Sarah M. Stough
,
Lawrence D. Carey
,
Christopher J. Schultz
, and
Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Relationships between lightning flashes and thunderstorm kinematics and microphysics are important for applications such as nowcasting of convective intensity. These relationships are influenced by cloud electrification structures and have been shown to vary in anomalously electrified thunderstorms. This study addresses transitional relationships between active charge structure and lightning flash location in the context of kinematic and microphysical updraft characteristics during the development of an anomalously electrified supercell thunderstorm in the Tennessee Valley on 10 April 2009. The initial charge structure within the updraft was characterized as an anomalous dipole in which positive charge was inferred in regions of precipitation ice (i.e., graupel and hail) and negative charge was inferred in regions of cloud ice (i.e., aggregates and ice crystals). During subsequent development of the anomalous charge structure, additional minor charge layers as well as evidence of increasing horizontal complexity were observed. Microphysical and kinematic characteristics of the charge structure also evolved to include increasing observations of negative charge in precipitation ice regions, indicating the emergence of more prominent normal charging alongside dominant anomalous charging. Simultaneously, lightning flash initiation locations were also increasingly observed in regions of faster updrafts and stronger horizontal gradients in updraft speed. It is suggested that continuous variability in charging behavior over mesogamma spatial scales influenced the evolution of lightning flash locations with respect to the updraft structure. Further work is necessary to determine how this variability may impact lightning flash relationships, including lightning flash rate, with bulk microphysical and kinematic characteristics and related applications.

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