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Walter A. Lyons, Eric C. Bruning, Tom A. Warner, Donald R. MacGorman, Samantha Edgington, Clemens Tillier, and Janusz Mlynarczyk


The existence of mesoscale lightning discharges on the order of 100 km in length has been known since the radar-based findings of Ligda in the mid-1950s. However, it took the discovery of sprites in 1989 to direct significant attention to horizontally extensive “megaflashes” within mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). More recently, 3D Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMAs) have documented sprite-initiating lightning discharges traversing several hundred kilometers. One such event in a 2007 Oklahoma MCS having an LMA-derived length of 321 km, has been certified by the WMO as the longest officially documented lightning flash. The new Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) sensor on GOES-16/17 now provides an additional tool suited to investigating mesoscale lightning. On 22 October 2017, a quasi-linear convective system moved through the central United States. At 0513 UTC, the GLM indicated a lightning discharge originated in northern Texas, propagated north-northeast across Oklahoma, fortuitously traversed the Oklahoma LMA (OKLMA), and finally terminated in southeastern Kansas. This event is explored using the OKLMA, the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), and the GLM. The NLDN reported 17 positive cloud-to-ground flashes (+CGs), 23 negative CGs (−CGs), and 37 intracloud flashes (ICs) associated with this massive discharge, including two +CGs capable of inducing sprites, with others triggering upward lightning from tall towers. Combining all available data confirms the megaflash, which illuminated 67,845 km2, was at least 500 km long, greatly exceeding the current official record flash length. Yet even these values are being superseded as GLM data are further explored, revealing that such vast discharges may not be all that uncommon.

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Walter A. Lyons, Eric C. Bruning, A. Warner, Donald R. MacGorman, Samantha Edgington, Clemens Tillier, and Janusz Mlynarczyk
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David McLaughlin, David Pepyne, V. Chandrasekar, Brenda Philips, James Kurose, Michael Zink, Kelvin Droegemeier, Sandra Cruz-Pol, Francesc Junyent, Jerald Brotzge, David Westbrook, Nitin Bharadwaj, Yanting Wang, Eric Lyons, Kurt Hondl, Yuxiang Liu, Eric Knapp, Ming Xue, Anthony Hopf, Kevin Kloesel, Alfred DeFonzo, Pavlos Kollias, Keith Brewster, Robert Contreras, Brenda Dolan, Theodore Djaferis, Edin Insanic, Stephen Frasier, and Frederick Carr

Dense networks of short-range radars capable of mapping storms and detecting atmospheric hazards are described. Composed of small X-band (9.4 GHz) radars spaced tens of kilometers apart, these networks defeat the Earth curvature blockage that limits today s long-range weather radars and enables observing capabilities fundamentally beyond the operational state-of-the-art radars. These capabilities include multiple Doppler observations for mapping horizontal wind vectors, subkilometer spatial resolution, and rapid-update (tens of seconds) observations extending from the boundary layer up to the tops of storms. The small physical size and low-power design of these radars permits the consideration of commercial electronic manufacturing approaches and radar installation on rooftops, communications towers, and other infrastructure elements, leading to cost-effective network deployments. The networks can be architected in such a way that the sampling strategy dynamically responds to changing weather to simultaneously accommodate the data needs of multiple types of end users. Such networks have the potential to supplement, or replace, the physically large long-range civil infrastructure radars in use today.

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