This study examined 34 lightning flashes within four separate thundersnow events derived from lightning mapping arrays (LMAs) in northern Alabama, central Oklahoma, and Washington, DC. The goals were to characterize the in-cloud component of each lightning flash, as well as the correspondence between the LMA observations and lightning data taken from national lightning networks like the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN). Individual flashes were examined in detail to highlight several observations within the dataset. The study results demonstrated that the structures of these flashes were primarily normal polarity. The mean area encompassed by this set of flashes is 375 square kilometers, with a maximum flash extent of 2300 square kilometers, a minimum of 3 square kilometers, and a median of 128 square kilometers. An average of 2.29 NLDN flashes were recorded per LMA-derived lightning flash. A maximum of 11 NLDN flashes were recorded in association with a single LMA-derived flash on 10 January 2011. Additionally, seven of the 34 flashes in the study contain zero NLDN identified flashes. Eleven of the 34 flashes initiated from tall human-made objects (e.g., communication towers). In at least six lightning flashes, the NLDN detected a return stroke from the cloud back to the tower and not the initial upward leader. This study also discusses lightning's interaction with the human built environment and provides an example of lightning within heavy snowfall observed by GOES-16's Geostationary Lightning Mapper.
Meteorology and Climatology
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (ISSN 2169-897X) (e-ISSN 2169-8996); 123; 4; 2347–2367