Study of the total lightning activity in a hailstorm

Study of the total lightning activity in a hailstorm

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Joan Montanyàa, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Serge Soulab, Nicolau Pinedac, Oscar van der Veldeb, Pere Clapersa, Glòria Solàa, Joan Bechc and D. Romeroa



aElectrical Engineering Department, Technological University of Catalonia (UPC), Colon, 1, Terrassa (Barcelona) 08222, Spain

bLaboratoire d’Aérologie, UMR 5560 CNRS/UPS, OMP, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

cMeteorological Service of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

Received 30 November 2007; 

accepted 13 June 2008. 

Available online 5 September 2008.



A thunderstorm that developed over northeastern Spain on 16 June 2006 is analyzed. This severe thunderstorm produced hailstones as large as 40 mm and had a lifetime of 3 h and 30 min. Radar cross-sections show strong vertical development with cloud echo tops reaching an altitude of 13 km. The specific characteristics of the lightning activity of this storm were: (i) a large amount (81%) of negative cloud-to-ground (−CG) flashes with very low peak currents (< 10 kA in absolute value), (ii) a very large proportion of intra-cloud (IC) flashes with an IC/CG ratio reaching about 400, (iii) a large number of “short” IC flashes (with only 1-VHF source according to SAFIR detection), (iv) a large increase of the −CG flash rate and of the CG proportion near the end of the storm. The rate of −CG flashes with a low peak current were observed to evolve similarly to the rates of IC flashes. Most of them have been assumed to be IC flashes misclassified by the Spanish Lightning Detection Network (SLDN). They have been filtered as it is usually done for misclassified +CG flashes. After this filtering, CG flash rates remained very low (< 1 min− 1) with +CG flashes sometimes dominant. All the particular lightning activity characteristics similar to those observed in the Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study (STEPS) campaigns support the hypothesis that this thunderstorm could have had an inverted-polarity or complex charge structure. The maximum IC flash rate (67 min− 1) peaked 24 min before the presence of reflectivity higher than 60 dBZ. The IC activity abruptly decreased during the period when reflectivity was dramatically increasing. The time of maximum reflectivity observed by radar was consistent with the times of reported hail at the ground….

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