Numerically Simulated Electrification and Lightning of the 29 June 2000 STEPS Supercell Storm

Kuhlman, Kristin M.; Ziegler, Conrad L.; Mansell, Edward R.; MacGorman, Donald R.; Straka, Jerry M.
October 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Oct2006, Vol. 134 Issue 10, p2734
Academic Journal
A three-dimensional dynamic cloud model incorporating airflow dynamics, microphysics, and thunderstorm electrification mechanisms is used to simulate the first 3 h of the 29 June 2000 supercell from the Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study (STEPS). The 29 June storm produced large flash rates, predominately positive cloud-to-ground lightning, large hail, and an F1 tornado. Four different simulations of the storm are made, each one using a different noninductive (NI) charging parameterization. The charge structure, and thus lightning polarity, of the simulated storm is sensitive to the treatment of cloud water dependence in the different NI charging schemes. The results from the simulations are compared with observations from STEPS, including balloon-borne electric field meter soundings and flash locations from the Lightning Mapping Array. For two of the parameterizations, the observed “inverted” tripolar charge structure is well approximated by the model. The polarity of the ground flashes is opposite that of the lowest charge region of the inverted tripole in both the observed storm and the simulations. Total flash rate is well correlated with graupel volume, updraft volume, and updraft mass flux. However, there is little correlation between total flash rate and maximum updraft speed. Based on the correlations found in both the observed and simulated storm, the total flash rate appears to be most representative of overall storm intensity.


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