EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Lightning activity accompanying tropical cyclones

Kateřina Rosická1,2, Ivana Kolmašová2,1, and Ondřej Santolík2,1
Kateřina Rosická et al.
  • 1Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, Prague, Czechia (
  • 2Department of Space Physics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czechia

We used the World Wide Lightning Location Network and cyclones tracks from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship to study properties of lightning strokes occurring in tropical cyclones. We studied 429 cyclones occurring from 2012 to 2017 in both hemispheres with more than 11 million lightning strokes found within a distance of 600 km from the cyclone eye. For purposes of our study, we divided the cyclones into 6 basins: Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, Northeast Pacific and Northwest Pacific in the northern hemisphere and Indian Ocean and Southern Pacific in the southern hemisphere. We found differences in the numbers, energies and multiplicities of lightning strokes occurring in the cyclones in the northern and southern hemispheres. We calculated the median stroke energy for each cyclone. We used Saffir-Simpson scale for classifying the intensity of tropical cyclones and found a tendency of decreasing median stroke energies with an increasing cyclone intensity. We compared the evolution of lightning activity accompanying the cyclones with the evolution of their central pressure and wind speed to examine the possibility of using the lightning activity for prediction of cyclone intensity changes. In the northern hemisphere, there was on average about 28 thousands of strokes per cyclone with a median energy of 1.7 kJ, while in the southern hemisphere, there was on average 24 thousands of strokes per cyclone with a median energy of 2.7 kJ. The difference in multiplicity is not really noticeable with an average of 1.39 strokes per flash in the northern hemisphere and 1.34 strokes per flash in the southern hemisphere. In our dataset, we found 28 strokes with an energy over 1 MJ (superbolts), which occurred in a short period during the winter 2013-14, which was the winter exhibiting the largest SOI (Southern oscillation index).


How to cite: Rosická, K., Kolmašová, I., and Santolík, O.: Lightning activity accompanying tropical cyclones, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4164,, 2022.

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