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Improved Forecasts of the First Lightning Flashes in Florida

Research Sponsored by Florida State University

Most lightning injuries and deaths are caused by the first few or last few cloud to ground (CG) flashes of a storm. In-cloud (IC) lightning has been shown to often precede the first CG flash. Those studies were based on data from the Midwest. The studies also showed that the time between the first IC and first CG varies geographically. Thus, results for the Midwest probably are not applicable to Florida.

We are determining the distribution of times between the first IC and first CG over central Florida using data from the Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR) network near Kennedy Space Center. The primary software tool is the Warning Decision and Support System (WDSS) which allows users to superimpose IC and CG lightning paths onto corresponding radar imagery and then manipulate and view the result in a variety of ways. WDSS also allows one to describe the storm environment based on NCEP model analyses.

The results of the research will determine whether the time difference between IC and CG will enable better lightning advisories to be issued by KSC and other groups in central Florida.

Graduate Student on this Project

Andy Lahr

Principal Investigator

Henry Fuelberg

last updated February 24, 2014