Enhancement of cloud-to-ground lightning over Houston, Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • Cloudtoground lightning flash data have been analyzed for the twelveyear period 19892000, for a geographical area centered on Houston, Texas. Of the 1.6 million cloudtoground flashes in this area of study, approximately 752,000 flashes occurred in the summer months of June, July, and August, and 119,000 flashes in the months of December, January, and February. The highest flash densities, greater than 4 flashes km2 in the summer and 0.7 flashes/km2 in the winter, are near the urban areas of Houston. We suggest that the elevated flash densities could result from several factors, including, 1) the convergence due to the urban heat island effect, and 2) the increasing levels of air pollution from anthropogenic sources producing numerous small droplets and thereby suppressing mean droplet size. The latter effect would enable more cloud water to reach the mixed phase region where it is involved in the formation of precipitation and the separation of electric charge, leading to an enhancement of lightning.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 11.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Orville, R. E., Huffines, G., Nielsen-Gammon, J., Zhang, R. Y., Ely, B., Steiger, S., ... Read, W.

citation count

  • 224

complete list of authors

  • Orville, RE||Huffines, G||Nielsen-Gammon, J||Zhang, RY||Ely, B||Steiger, S||Phillips, S||Allen, S||Read, W

publication date

  • July 2001