Cloud-to-ground lightning as a proxy for nowcasts of VIL and echo tops
January 20, 2008
The primary fields that provide weather situational awareness in the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) are radar-derived vertically-integrated liquid (VIL) and echo top height (ET). In situations of reduced or non-existent radar coverage, such as over the oceans, in mountainous terrain or during periods of radar outages, the radar VIL and ET fields are severely compromised or even absent. In these situations, the lightning data are often unaffected and fully available to use as a proxy for the radar fields in convective weather nowcasts. The purpose of this study is to develop the capability to utilize cloud-to-ground lightning strike data as a proxy for radar VIL and echo tops (ET) in the CIWS. The datasets used in this study are the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and the 1 km/5min radar VIL and ET mosaics produced at MIT LL. To capture the synoptic variability of the lightning-VIL and lightning-ET relationships over the CIWS domain, atmospheric variables from the NOAA Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model and the Space-time Mesoscale Analysis System (STMAS) are utilized with the lightning data in a statistical regression framework. Once spatially and temporally coherent regions of VIL and ET derived from the lightning are produced, the potential exists for tracking these regions and providing accurate short-term forecasting of convective hazards.