Lightning in Hurricane Joaquin

I wanted to post a different way of viewing Hurricane Joaquin using lightning data.  Until GOES-R is launched and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is available, forecasters rely on long-range terrestrial lightning networks to get a view inside tropical systems.  In this example from the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), the lightning density comes from Vaisala’s GLD360 network.  Unlike the lightning mapping array (LMA) networks SPoRT collaborates with, the GLD360 primarily observes cloud-to-ground strokes, but will occasionally observe strong intra-cloud flashes (although the network does not distinguish between the two).  The interesting feature here is the nearly concentric ring of lightning stroke densities around the eye, although some strong storms are observed to the southwest.  Research at CIRA and the National Hurricane Center has been investigating the impact on rapid tropical cyclone intensification based on whether the lightning densities are greatest in the inner core or outer rain bands.  There is a great deal of interest in observing the relationship between tropical cyclone development/intensity and total lightning, which will be available once GLM is launched and can be compared to the work ongoing with the GLD360.

The latest animations can be viewed at the OPC web page: OPC IR and GLD360 animations

An image of Hurricane Joaquin with IR imagery overlaid with 30 minutes of Vaisala's GLD360 lightning stroke density at 1445 UTC on October 1, 2015. The image was produced by the Ocean Prediction Center.

An image of Hurricane Joaquin with IR imagery overlaid with 30 minutes of Vaisala’s GLD360 lightning stroke density (8×8 km) at 1445 UTC on October 1, 2015. Note the ring of lightning surrounding the eye of the hurricane.  The image was produced by the Ocean Prediction Center.

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