Convective Meteorology (Mesoscale Dynamics)

Anvil Lightning in the 29 May Kingfisher Supercell Observed During DC3

Elizabeth DiGangi
OU School of Meteorology

28 April 2014, 3:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 5600
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

A supercell thunderstorm formed as part of a cluster of severe storms near Kingfisher, OK on 29 May 2012 during the Deep Convective Clouds & Chemistry (DC3) experiment. This storm produced 5” hail, an EF-1 tornado, and copious lightning over the course of a few hours. For part of the storm's lifetime, observations were obtained from mobile polarimetric radars and a balloon-borne electric field meter and particle imager, while aircraft sampled the chemistry of the inflow and anvil. In addition, the storm was within the domain of the 3-dimensional Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (LMA).

This study focuses on a one-hour interval during which triple-doppler coverage was available for half the period, and a balloon carrying an electric field meter (EFM), radiosonde, and particle imager flew through the storm. Data from the NEXRAD radar KTLX is used to supplement mobile radar data. Flash rates, very high frequency (VHF) source densities, and charge analyses are examined to give an overview of the storm’s electrical nature at that time. The charge inferred from lightning is compared to the charge inferred from EFM measurements to test how well the lightning-inferred charge analysis can be expanded to the whole storm.

For this study, the focus is the lightning in the anvil, particularly those flashes that occurred several tens of kilometers from regions of deep convection. These flashes are examined relative to radar reflectivity, ground strike points (provided by the National Lightning Detection Network), and inferred charge structure to test hypotheses concerning how the flashes were initiated and what caused some flashes to strike ground so far from deep convection. For example, a local region of deeper convection formed within the distant anvil and was associated with the flash that struck the DC8 aircraft. The evolution of this local convection is consistent with it being produced by evaporation of precipitation in virga falling from the anvil, but convergence in the outflow from two adjoining storms may also have played a role.

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