Comparisons between total lightning data, mesocyclone strength, and storm damage associated with the Florida tornado outbreak of February 23 1998
During the late evening and early morning hours of February 22/23 1998, the worst tornado outbreak in recorded history occurred over the peninsula of central Florida. Analysis of KMLB Doppler radar data indicated at least 9 supercells developed over the region, with 4 of the supercells producing tornadoes. These 4 tornadic supercells produced a total of 7 tornadoes, some of them on the ground for tens of miles (Fig. 1.). A total of 42 fatalities were reported with over 260 injured. Monetary losses totaled over 100 million dollars. During this severe weather outbreak, National Weather Service Melbourne, in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was collecting data from a unique lightning observing system called Lightning Imaging Sensor Data Applications Display (LISDAD). This system has the capability to combine radar reflectivity data collected from the KMLB WSR-88D, cloud to ground data collected from the National Lightning Detection Network, and total lightning data collected from NASA's Lightning Detection And Ranging (LDAR) system. The object of this study is to compare total lightning data collected from the LISDAD system to mesocyclone strength as observed from the KMLB WSR-88D. These data will then be compared to the times of tornadic winds.