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A monthly climatological study of cloud-to-ground lightning characteristics throughout the contiguous United States: 1989-1994
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The National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) has been in operation since 1989. The NLDN is currently composed of a mixture of magnetic direction finders (DFs) and time-of-arrival (TOA) sensors which locate cloud-to-ground (CG) flashes as well as measure their polarity, peak current, and multiplicity. A monthly climatology for the contiguous United States was created for the six years of data to establish an "average year". Analysis was completed for the mean values and interannual variability of several lightning parameters: ground flash density, positive ground flash density, percentage positive lightning, multiplicity, and median first-stroke peak currents. In addition to these lightning characteristics, correlation between monthly lightning and precipitation was analyzed in different areas throughout the country. The 1989-1994 mean monthly maximum values were analyzed. Maximum monthly ground flash density values ranged from 0.050 km-2 in December along the southern Mississippi Valley to 2.96 km-2 in July in central Florida. Similarly, positive ground flash density values ranged from 0.0068 km-2 in December in eastern Texas to 0.12 km-2 in July in northern Kansas. In the percentage positive lightning field a persistent protrusion, with locally higher values, appeared from Minnesota southwestward into Colorado from April through August. Mean monthly percentage positive lightning was highest in December at 16.0% and lowest in August at 3.0%. The mean monthly negative multiplicity ranged from 2.32 in February to 2.78 in June. The mean monthly positive multiplicity ranged from 1.26 in December to 1.35 in July. Geographically, the monthly maxima for the negative multiplicity field were generally found along the Gulf Coastal states, especially in Florida during the summer months. Unlike the negative flashes, the monthly maxima for the positive flashes were generally found in the Midwest. The monthly positive median first-stroke peak current ranged from 39 kA in July-September to 66 kA in December and January. Values for negative flashes ranged from 29 kA in May and June to 43 kA in January. Finally, the correlation between monthly precipitation and lightning flash count was much greater (r 2 >0.6) in the central Great Plains than in the Pacific Northwest and Deep South (r 2 <0.11).
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Includes bibliographical references.
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Silver, Alan Corey (1995). A monthly climatological study of cloud-to-ground lightning characteristics throughout the contiguous United States: 1989-1994. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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