Dr. Scott Rudlosky, NOAA physical scientist and ESSIC visiting assistant research scientist, was once again featured in an article on WashingtonPost.com, but this time he discussed the lightning during the severe storm that struck the Metropolitan area on June 29.
During the storm, Post writer Kevin Ambrose photographed a unique lightning discharge over Washington.
“It was amazing what Scott learned about the lightning that I had photographed. The visible lightning in the photo, which seemed limited to downtown D.C., was really a small portion of a much larger lightning flash that spanned a distance from Rockville, Md. to well east of Landover, Md., an area covering over 200 square miles. Much of the upper portion of the lightning was obscured by clouds and the camera only photographed a small section of the lower lightning flash. Scott had all the data points to prove it,” according to the article. “From the lightning data points, Scott created 2D and 3D vector representations of the lightning. Those representations can be viewed below as a 2D image and a 3D video. Note, because hills, trees, and buildings partially block the lightning sensors, the very lowest portion of the lightning, near the ground, is often not detected and thus not represented on the plots.”
Rudlosky told Ambrose and The Post, “The [D.C. Lightning Mapping Array] DCLMA is a joint demonstration project involving NASA, NOAA, New Mexico Tech, and a number of local sponsors. The network consists of 10 sensors that monitor very high frequency (VHF) radio waves (radiation sources) emitted by lightning flashes. A computer algorithm then combines the individual radiation sources into lightning flashes based on spatial and temporal criteria. The network is most sensitive to the radio frequencies emitted by portions of lightning flashes that remain in the clouds, but it also detects portions of cloud-to-ground lightning channels, especially when the network is at peak performance (i.e., 10 of 10 sensors operational).”
A video by Rudlosky included in the article, which is also featured in his “It’s Severe” blog, provides a 3-D depiction of a lightning flash recorded by the DCLMA and CWG Photographer Kevin Ambrose on June 29 at 11:24 p.m.