Distinctive Signals in 1-min Observations of Overshooting Tops and Lightning Activity in a Severe Supercell Thunderstorm

Paloma Borque, Luciano Vidal, Martín Rugna, Timothy J. Lang, María Gabriela Nicora, Stephen W. Nesbitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work examines a severe weather event that took place over central Argentina on 11 December 2018. The evolution of the storm from its initiation, rapid organization into a supercell, and eventual decay was analyzed with high-temporal resolution observations. This work provides insight into the spatio-temporal co-evolution of storm kinematics (updraft area and lifespan), cloud-top cooling rates, and lightning production that led to severe weather. The analyzed storm presented two convective periods with associated severe weather. An overall decrease in cloud-top local minima IR brightness temperature (MinIR) and lightning jump (LJ) preceded both periods. LJs provided the highest lead time to the occurrence of severe weather, with the ground-based lightning networks providing the maximum warning time of around 30 min. Lightning flash counts from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) were underestimated when compared to detections from ground-based lightning networks. Among the possible reasons for GLM's lower detection efficiency were an optically dense medium located above lightning sources and the occurrence of flashes smaller than GLM's footprint. The minimum MinIR provided the shorter warning time to severe weather occurrence. However, the secondary minima in MinIR that preceded the absolute minima improved this warning time by more than 10 min. Trends in MinIR for time scales shorter than 6 min revealed shorter cycles of fast cooling and warming, which provided information about the lifecycle of updrafts within the storm. The advantages of using observations with high-temporal resolution to analyze the evolution and intensity of convective storms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JD032856
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 27 2020


  • aerosol transport
  • atmospheric modeling
  • large eddy simulation (LES)
  • random walk
  • sea spray generation
  • upscaled modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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