Using Lightning Data to Better Understand and Predict Flash Floods in the Mediterranean

Abstract:

One of the costliest natural hazards around the globe is flash floods, resulting from localized intense convective precipitation over short periods of time. Since intense convective rainfall (especially over the continents) is well correlated with lightning activity in these storms, a European Union FP6 FLASH project was realized from 2006 to 2010, focusing on using lightning observations to better understand and predict convective storms that result in flash floods. As part of the project, 23 case studies of flash floods in the Mediterranean region were examined. For the analysis of these storms, lightning data were used together with rainfall estimates in order to understand the storms’ development and electrification processes. In addition, these case studies were simulated using mesoscale meteorological models to better understand the local and synoptic conditions leading to such intense and damaging storms. As part of this project, tools for short-term predictions (nowcasts) of intense convection across the Mediterranean and Europe, and long-term forecasts (a few days) of the likelihood of intense convection, were developed and employed. The project also focused on educational outreach through a special Web site http://flashproject.org supplying real-time lightning observations, real-time experimental nowcasts, medium-range weather forecasts and educational materials. While flash floods and intense thunderstorms cannot be prevented, long-range regional lightning networks can supply valuable data, in real time, for warning the public, end-users and stakeholders of imminent intense rainfall and possible flash floods.

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The FLASH Project: using lightning data to better understand and predict flash floods

Abstract:

The FLASH project was implemented from 2006 to 2010 under the EU FP6 framework. The project focused on using lightning observations to better understand and predict convective storms that result in flash floods. As part of the project 23 case studies of flash floods in the Mediterranean region were examined. For the analysis of these storms lightning data from the ZEUS network were used together with satellite derived rainfall estimates in order to understand the storm development and electrification. In addition, these case studies were simulated using mesoscale meteorological models to better understand the meteorological and synoptic conditions leading up to these intense storms. As part of this project tools for short term predictions (nowcasts) of intense convection across the Mediterranean and Europe, and long term forecasts (a few days) of the likelihood of intense convection were developed. The project also focused on educational outreach through our website http://flashproject.org supplying real time lightning observations, real time experimental nowcasts, forecasts and educational materials. While flash floods and intense thunderstorms cannot be prevented as the climate changes, long-range regional lightning networks can supply valuable data, in real time, for warning end-users and stakeholders of imminent intense rainfall and possible flash floods.