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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-342
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-342
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: brief communication 27 Nov 2019

Submitted as: brief communication | 27 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Brief Communication: An Electrifying Atmospheric River: Understanding the Thunderstorm Event in Santa Barbara County during March 2019

Deanna Nash1 and Leila M. V. Carvalho1,2 Deanna Nash and Leila M. V. Carvalho
  • 1Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 USA
  • 2Earth Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA

Abstract. On 5 March 2019 12 UTC, an Atmospheric River (AR) made landfall in Santa Barbara, CA and lasted approximately 30 hours. This AR was one of many that occurred during the winter season in Santa Barbara. However, during this AR, a massive number of lightning pulses were detected by Earth Networks Global Lightning Network (ENGLN) near and off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. In the 24 hours following 6 March 2019 00 UTC, 14,416 lightning flashes occurred around southern California (140° W to 110° W and 20° N to 50° N). This far exceeded the climatological average number of lightning flashes recorded by the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) and Optical Transient Detector (OTD) on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). Between the years of 1995 and 2014, the TRMM LIS-OTD detected an average flash density of approximately 9.15 flashes per day in the same region around southern California. While the AR could be considered part of a typical winter storm in the area, the extraordinary amount of lightning strikes in the region was very anomalous. This combined thunderstorm and Atmospheric River event resulted in 36-hour precipitation totals in Santa Barbara to be approximately 77.6 mm, with a maximum rain rate of 16.5 mm h−1. This article describes the synoptic and mesoscale characteristics of this electrifying AR event.

Deanna Nash and Leila M. V. Carvalho
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Status: open (until 22 Jan 2020)
Status: open (until 22 Jan 2020)
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Deanna Nash and Leila M. V. Carvalho
Deanna Nash and Leila M. V. Carvalho
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