GEOMETRICAL AND ELECTRICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INITIAL STAGE IN FLORIDA TRIGGERED LIGHTNING
We characterize the geometrical and electrical characteristics of the initial stages of nine Florida triggered lightning discharges using a Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) and measured channel-base currents. We determine initial channel and subsequent branch lengths, average initial channel and branch propagation speeds, and channel-base current at the time of each branch initiation. The channelbase current is found to not change significantly when branching occurs, an unexpected result. The initial stage of Florida triggered lightning typically transitions from vertical to horizontal propagation at altitudes of 3–6 km, near the typical freezing level of 4 km and several kilometers below the expected center of the negative cloud-charge region at 7–8 km. The data presented potentially provide information on thunderstorm electrical and hydrometeor structure and discharge propagation physics. LMA source locations were obtained from VHF sources of positive impulsive currents as small as 10 A, in contrast to expectations found in the literature.