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Sarah A. Tessendorf, Kyle C. Wiens, and Steven A. Rutledge

Abstract

This study addresses the kinematic, microphysical, and electrical evolution of an isolated convective storm observed on 3 June 2000 during the Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study field campaign. Doppler-derived vertical velocities, radar reflectivity, hydrometeor classifications from polarimetric radar, and Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) charge structures are examined over a nearly 3-h period. This storm, characterized as a low-precipitation supercell, produced modest amounts of hail, determined by fuzzy-logic hydrometeor classification as mostly small (<2 cm) hail, with one surface report of large (≥2 cm) hail. Doppler-derived updraft speeds peaked between 20 and 25 m s−1, and reflectivity was never greater than 60 dBZ. The most striking feature of this storm was its total lack of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning. Though this storm was electrically active, with maximum flash rates near 30 per minute, no CG flashes of either polarity were detected. The charge structure inferred from the LMA observations was consistent with an inverted dipole, defined as having a midlevel positive charge region below upper-level negative charge. Inverted charge structures have typically been considered conducive to producing positive CG lightning; however, the 3 June storm appeared to lack the lower negative charge layer below the inverted dipole that is thought to provide the downward electrical bias necessary for positive CG lightning.

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Sarah A. Tessendorf, Steven A. Rutledge, and Kyle C. Wiens

Abstract

This study discusses radar and lightning observations of two multicellular storms observed during the Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study. The Lightning Mapping Array data indicated that the charge structure of the 19 June 2000 storm was consistent with a normal polarity tripole, while the 22 June 2000 storm exhibited an overall inverted tripolar charge structure. The 19 June storm consisted of weaker convection and produced little to no hail and moderate total flash rates peaking between 80 and 120 min−1. The cells in the 22 June 2000 storm were much more vigorous, exhibited strong, broad updrafts, and produced large quantities of hail, as well as extraordinary total flash rates as high as 500 min−1. The National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) indicated that the 19 June storm produced mostly negative cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning, while the 22 June storm produced predominantly positive CG lightning, peaking at 10 min−1 just after two cells merged. However, the Los Alamos Sferic Array indicated that many of the positive CG strokes reported by the NLDN in the 22 June storm were intracloud discharges known as narrow bipolar events. Negative CG lightning was also observed in the 22 June storm, but typically came to ground beneath an inverted dipole in the storm anvil.

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