Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Science

Committee Chair

Larry D. Carey

Committee Member

Philip Bitzer

Committee Member

Timothy Lang


Lightning., Severe storms., Thunderstorms., Tornado warning systems.


Total lightning and a supercell’s mesocyclone are hypothesized to be physically linked by the updraft such that increased lightning activity may give indication of mesocyclone strengthening and overall supercell intensification. To test this conceptual model, 19 diverse supercell storms were analyzed using Doppler velocity-derived metrics of rotation and total lightning data, including use of the lightning jump as an objective measure of rapid increases in lightning. Given a supportive environment, the initial lightning jump of a storm often coincides with or precedes the onset of mesocyclonic rotation on the order of five to ten minutes. Subsequent lightning jumps generally coincide with or precede strengthening of mesocyclonic rotation on the order of a few minutes, with increasing time above six kilometers. Results vary by supercell environment and structure. Periodic anti-correlation between lightning activity and low-level rotation was observed, suggesting a potential relationship between lightning and downdraft-induced vorticity thought to influence tornadogenesis.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.