Flash Location, Size, and Rates Relative to the Evolving Kinematics and Microphysics of the 29 May 2012 DC3 Supercell Storm

Monday, 15 December 2014
Donald R MacGorman1, Elizabeth DiGangi2, Conrad Ziegler1, Michael I Biggerstaff3, Dan Betten2 and Eric C Bruning4, (1)National Severe Storms Lab Norman, Norman, OK, United States, (2)University of Oklahoma and NOAA/NSSL, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, Norman, OK, United States, (3)University of Oklahoma Norman Campus, Norman, OK, United States, (4)Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, United States
A supercell thunderstorm was observed on 29 May 2012 during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) experiment. This storm was part of a cluster of severe storms and produced 5” hail, an EF-1 tornado, and copious lightning over the course of a few hours. During a period in which flash rates were increasing rapidly, observations were obtained from mobile polarimetric radars and a balloon-borne electric field meter (EFM) 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) and the S-band KTLX WSR-88D radar.

The focus of this paper is the evolution of flash rates, the location of flash initiations, and the distribution of flash size and flash extent density as they relate to the evolving kinematics and microphysics of the storm for the approximately 30-minute period in which triple-Doppler coverage was available. Besides analyzing reflectivity structure and three-dimensional winds for the entire period, we examine mixing ratios of cloud water, cloud ice, rain, and graupel/hail that have been retrieved by a Lagrangian analysis for three select times, one each at the beginning, middle, and end of the period. Flashes in an around the updraft of this storm were typically small. Flash size tended to increase, and flash rates tended to decrease as distance from the updraft increased. Although flash initiations were most frequent near the updraft, some flashes were initiated near the edge of 30 dBZ cores and propagated into the anvil. Later, some flashes were initiated in the anvil itself, in vertical cells that formed and became electrified tens of kilometers downshear of the main body of the storm. Considerable lightning structure was inferred to be in regions dominated by cloud ice in the upper part of the storm. The continual small discharges in the overshooting top of the storm tended to be near or within 15 dBZ contours, although occasional discharges appeared to extend above the storm.