Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Timothy W. Holzmann, PhD


Air Force weather squadrons issue a warning when lightning activity is observed within 5 nautical miles (NM) of protected areas. Upon receiving this warning, personnel outdoors are expected to pause work and move inside. Studies sponsored by the 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS) have concluded that the 5 NM warning radius can be safely reduced for well-developed storms. This thesis investigates whether radii for storms in early development can also be reduced. Our research develops algorithms to partition lightning sensor data into storms. Next, storms are filtered to their earliest lightning events, and the study calculates distances between successive early lightning observations. Analysis indicates that 4.02 of lightning events during the first 30 seconds of a storm occur more than 4 NM away from the previous event, and 2.11 occur more than 5 NM away. Because these percentages are smaller than the equivalent values for well-developed storms from Sanderson (2019), we conclude that her recommended lightning warning radius of 4 NM is valid for developing storms as well.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number