Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Operations Research


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Andrew J. Geyer, PhD


The mission of the 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS) is to “exploit the weather to assure safe access to air and space” for Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in support of various operations (United States Air Force, n.d.). To support that mission the 45 WS hosts a suite of weather detection instruments that include a lightning warning system that consists of an array of 31 electric field mills (EFM) and a lightning detection and ranging system (Department of the Air Force, 1976). Electric field mills at Cape Canaveral continuously record data from 31 separate EFM sites 24 hours a day at a rate of 50 Hz. This produces 4,320,000 lines of recorded data daily for each EFM site, a total of more than 16 billion data points annually for the active thunderstorm season. This study seeks to determine a single electric field mill reading threshold for lightning onset and a separate single EFM reading threshold for lightning cessation. Statistical analysis of the EFM and Lightning Detection and Ranging (LDAR) parameters show there is no measurable correlation between EFM readings and lightning activity. Further, attempts to build models using threshold analysis, standard least squares regression fitting, nominal logistic regression fitting, and negative binomial regression fitting are unable to accurately predict any meaningful amount of lightning activity. The best of these models only account for 16% of the variance in the dataset. Overall results show EFM readings do not correlate well with lightning activity and any attempts to predict lightning proved ineffective.

AFIT Designator