Radar and lightning analyses of gigantic jet-producing storms

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Abstract

[1] An analysis of thunderstorm environment, structure, and evolution associated with six gigantic jets (five negative polarity, one positive) was conducted. Three of these gigantic jets were observed within detection range of very high frequency lightning mapping networks. All six were within range of operational radars and two-dimensional lightning network coverage: five within the National Lightning Detection Network and one within the Global Lightning Detection (GLD360) network. Most of the storms producing the jets formed in moist tropical or tropical-like environments (precipitable water ranged from 37 to 62 kg m−2, and 0–6 km shear from 3.5 to 24.8 m s−1), featuring high convective available potential energy (1200–3500 J kg−1) and low lifted indices (−2.8 to −6.4). The storms had maximum radar reflectivity factors of 54 to 62 dBZ, and 10 dBZ echo contours reached 14–17 km. Storms covered by three-dimensional lightning mappers were near peak altitude of lightning activity (modes of the vertical distributions of radio sources were at altitudes colder than −50°C) and vertical reflectivity intensity, with overshooting echo tops around the times of their jets. Two of the other three jet-producing storms produced their jet around the time of a convective surge as indicated by radar data and likely featured overshooting tops. The observations suggest a link between convective surges, overshooting tops, and the occurrence of gigantic jets, similar to prior modeling studies.

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