The Satellite Proving Ground at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction (NCWCP) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC), has begun the next round of GOES-R proxy product demonstrations. The 2013 theme is on convective products that include the NSSL WRF and NAM simulated satellite imagery, the overshooting top detection, lightning density product, and convective initiation. The first wave of products will focus on the first two products, but I am testing and archiving the new lightning density product that has been developed by a collaborative effort with the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), and NESDIS STAR using the Vaisala GLD-360 lightning feed at the NCWCP.
After a cold end to winter and a very slow start to spring, thunderstorm season started with a bang the last few days. In particular, a cluster of thunderstorms developed over southeast TX on Tuesday night and proceeded to drop substantial hail (~3.5″ diameter) in Galveston County. The image above shows the lightning density product with the most intense convective cell that produced the large hail. Notice how the color scale does not go high enough to emphasize the intense amount of lightning (cloud-to-ground) with that cell.
The entire event is highlighted in the above animation (30-minute bins to match the 30-minute GOES-13 infrared imagery) as the clusters of thunderstorms over TX transfer energy to the Gulf of Mexico. As this new cluster of thunderstorms intensifies, it meets the qualifications to be designated a mesoscale convective complex (MCC) and even included a mid-level mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) that traveled just south of the northern Gulf coast. A wake low formed near the MS/AL coastlines and produced winds that exceeded 50-60 mph in spots. While this was going on, notice how intense (dense) the lightning activity is in the southern portion of the MCC as the complex continually evolves.
Finally, a renegade, elevated supercell thunderstorm formed over old Mexico and paralleled/straddled the Rio Grande River to a point just west of Brownsville. I created the above animation with a 2-minute increment to showcase the short-term evolution of this supercell. . .using lightning!!!
I expect to show off more lightning density cases as we move through severe weather season into hurricane season. One major advantage to having this product in operations at the NCWCP and NHC is that forecasters will be able to monitor the relative strength of convection over maritime and mountainous regions that lack convectional radar coverage. This product coupled with the OTD product (a separate post in the making) will continue to assist forecasters in the Proving Ground!