Role for Lightning in Tornadogenesis and Possible Modification

Authors

  • R. W. Armstrong Mechanical Engineering University of Maryland College Park, MD
  • J. G. Glenn Energetic Materials Branch Munitions Directorate Eglin Air Force Base, FL

Abstract

New consideration is given to the action, under severe storm conditions, of repeated, spatially-localized, intracloud lightning flashes providing enhancement of updraft wind velocities towards initiation of a tornado. The basis for the updraft wind enhancement comes from lightning-generated H+ and OH- ion concentrations that are driven for energy release to opposite lower and upper cloud levels, respectively, by the residual electric field of the thunderstorm. The model consideration is related to recent reports of intracloud flash rate measurements associated with tornadic activity. The required spatial localization of the intracloud-containing flash rate may be a contributing factor to tornadoes being relatively rare occurrences in such storms. Nevertheless, cloud seeding is proposed to alleviate updraft velocity build-ups by promoting “in-situ” recombination of the lightning-generated concentrations of ions. 

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Scientific Papers