Using Radar-Derived Parameters to Develop Probabilistic Guidance for Lightning Cessation within Isolated Convection near Cape Canaveral, Florida

"Thunderstorms in central Florida frequently halt outdoor activities, requiring that one wait some prescribed time after an assumed last flash before safely resuming activities. The goal of this research is to develop a high-skill probabilistic method that can be used in high-pressure real-world operations to terminate lightning warnings more quickly while maintaining safety. Probabilistic guidance tools are created for isolated warm season storms in central Florida using dual-polarized radar data at 1-min intervals. The parameters examined are maximum reflectivity and graupel presence at the 0°, -5°, -10°, -15°, and -20°C levels as well as composite reflectivity. Random samples of the radar data are used to train a generalized linear model (GLM) to make a probabilistic prediction whether a given flash is the storm's last flash. The most statistically significant predictors for lightning cessation are found to be the storm's maximum reflectivity in the composite and the 0°C levels, along with graupel presence or absence at the -5°, -10°, -15°, and -20°C levels. Statistical verification is used to analyze the performance of the two GLMs at different probability thresholds (95.0%, 97.5%, and 99.0%). When applying the cessation guidance as though storms are occurring in real time, results showed ~ 99% of the storms produced no additional lightning after the GLM suggested cessation had already occurred. Although these results are encouraging, the procedure must be tested on much larger datasets having different convective modes and different areal coverages to prove its value compared to operational forecasters."

Joseph Patton
NOAA/NWS Weather Forecast Office, Goodland, Kansas

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