Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Edward D. White III, PhD


Previous research investigating lightning warning radii about the Cape Canaveral space launch facilities have focused on reducing these radii from either 5 nautical miles (NM) to 4 NM or from 6 NM to 5 NM depending on the structures being protected. Some of these findings have suggested the possibility of both a seasonal difference (warm versus cold) and lightning detection events (cloud-to-ground lightning (CG) or total lightning (TL)) impacting these radii and associated risk levels. Utilizing the 2017-2020 data provided by the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base via the Mesoscale Eastern Range Lightning Information System (MERLIN), this thesis investigates these seasonal and data collection impacts. Our findings indicate that there is a substantial increased risk to warning radii's when just utilizing CG data in comparison to TL data. For the years studied, the mean risk for just using CG data was 5.94 in comparison to just 0.015 for the TL data for the 5 NM radii safety buffer. There were negligible seasonal differences between the warm season (May through September months) in comparison to the cold season (the remaining months) for using TL (0.015 versus 0.014 ). In contrast, utilizing just CG data resulted in mean risk for the warm season of 4.86 compared to 11.56 for the cold season. Our recommendations are to utilize TL data where available. If using just CG data, then the risk of a lightning event occurring outside of a warning radii approximately doubles during the cold season in comparison to the warm season.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number