Lee A. Nelson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Gary R. Huffines, PhD


Military base weather stations are required to issue lightning warnings to protect military equipment and personnel. The issuance of warnings is based on a 5 nautical mile (n mi) distance criterion. This criterion appears to have evolved over time as a balance between safety and mission impact. The goal of this thesis is to challenge the 5 n mi lightning warning criteria by quantifying the distance that CG lightning travels. A secondary goal is to examine the characteristics of the peak current of CG lightning strokes to determine if a relationship exists between peak current, the distance a stroke travels, and the altitude of the origin point of the lightning stroke. This study found 28.6% of lightning flashes traveled further than 5 n mi from the point of origin. The study used approximately 4 years of data and found that the spring and winter seasons had the highest seasonal frequencies of occurrence of distances greater than 5 n mi. Peak current analysis indicated that higher peak currents are associated with shorter distances that lightning strokes traveled and higher peak currents were found to be associated with strokes that originated at lower altitudes.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number


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