Severe Weather 101

Lightning Forecasting

Forecasters can and do forecast the likelihood of intense lightning activity. But, it is impossible to forecast individual strikes since lightning is so widespread, frequent and random. Our understanding of cloud electrification processes is still incomplete.

What we do: NSSL and partners are working on an experimental forecast model that predicts the maximum lightning threat every hour.

NSSL and other scientists are finding ways to use trends in the flash rate and location of cloud-to-ground lightning relative to the storm to help identify the development of thunderstorms, the growth of updrafts, and the formation of precipitation and downdrafts.

NSSL researchers are using a 3-D cloud model to investigate the full life-cycle of thunderstorms. The model has shown how graupel or other droplets could help form regions of lower charge.