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Numerical Simulations of Lightning and Storm Charge of the 29–30 May 2004 Geary, Oklahoma, Supercell Thunderstorm Using EnKF Mobile Radar Data Assimilation


Results from simulations are compared with dual-Doppler and total lightning observations of the 29–30 May 2004 high-precipitation supercell storm from the Thunderstorm Electrification and Lightning Experiment (TELEX). The simulations use two-moment microphysics with six hydrometeor categories and parameterizations for electrification and lightning while employing an ensemble Kalman filter for mobile radar data assimilation. Data assimilation was utilized specifically to produce a storm similar to the observed for ancillary analysis of the electrification and lightning associated with the supercell storm. The simulated reflectivity and wind fields well approximated that of the observed storm. Additionally, the simulated lightning flash rates were very large, as was observed. The simulation reveals details of the charge distribution and dependence of lightning on storm kinematics, characteristics that could not be observed directly. Storm electrification was predominately confined to the updraft core, but the persistence of both positive and negative charging of graupel in this region, combined with the kinematic evolution, limited the extent of charged areas of the same polarity. Thus, the propagation length of lightning flashes in this region was also limited. Away from the updraft core, regions of charge had greater areal extent, allowing flashes to travel farther without termination due to unfavorable charge potential. Finally, while the simulation produced the observed lightning holes and high-altitude lightning seen in the observations, it failed to produce the observed lightning initiations (or even lightning channels) in the distant downstream anvil as seen in the observed storm. Instead, the simulated lightning was confined to the main body of the storm.

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