Challenge With A DSS Event With Scattered Thunderstorm Development…focus on LightningCast.

Sea Breeze and outflow boundaries in place over the Florida Peninsula made for a tricky forecast during the afternoon hours, as thunderstorms could and would quickly develop just about anywhere along that boundary. Lightning up to this point by far was the main threat from these storms…as most storms were not strong long enough to cause notable hail to be a concern, but with storms having the potential to “die off” quickly as well, wind was more of a concern.

With the initial onset of early afternoon activity, providing DSS support and giving the local contact more detailed information was on the ‘easier’ side. LightningCast around 19Z was showing increasing probability contours of lightning within 60 mins at the DSS site (image below was at 1901Z. The DSS event is noted by the yellow “C”.

By around 2035Z, activity had increased in coverage and drifted northeast, closer to the DSS event, shown below by the increased coverage of ENTLN lightning plots and the 75% probability contour in the area.

The challenge since then is that more scattered/widespread activity has developed (and died off), in what seems at times to be in fairly random areas…but are for the most part tied to the moving outflow boundaries from previous storms (seen in radar image below at 2203Z).

Not surprisingly, as a result of all of this activity, LightningCast over this entire area has been remaining mostly around-above 50%, with many spots at/above 75%.

The challenge is what is the best way to convey this information to the DSS point of contact? Below is an image showing the LightningCast probability contours at 2212Z, along with the LightningCast Time Series for the DSS site (noted with the yellow “C”).

There is an overall lull roughly between 2110Z-2150Z (probability is closer to/lower to 50%)…but it never drops below 20%.  

Personally, looking at this time series and given the environment/set up and evolution of storms so far, I would have a difficult time calling the DSS point of contact and saying the threat of lightning is low…as another storm could develop as soon as I hang up. You don’t want to totally shut an event down, or be constantly calling the point of contact with updates (unless you know the contact likes that much communication). I don’t claim to have the answers, just thinking out loud, but it’s something to think about if using this product to communicate with DDS contacts.


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