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A multi-variable investigation of thunderstorm environments in two distinct geographic regions is conducted to assess the aerosol and thermodynamic environments surrounding thunderstorm initiation. 12-years of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flash data are used to reconstruct thunderstorms occurring in a 225 km radius centered on the Washington, D·C. and Kansas City Metropolitan Regions. A total of 196,836 and 310,209 thunderstorms were identified for Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, MO, respectively. Hourly meteorological and aerosol data were then merged with the thunderstorm event database.

Evidence suggests, warm season thunderstorm environments in benign synoptic conditions are considerably different in thermodynamics, aerosol properties, and aerosol concentrations within the Washington, D.C. and Kansas City regions. However, thunderstorm intensity, as measured by flash counts, appears regulated by similar thermodynamic-aerosol relationships despite the differences in their ambient environments. When examining thunderstorm initiation environments, there exists statistically significant, positive relationships between convective available potential energy (CAPE) and flash counts. Aerosol concentration also appears to be a more important quantity than particle size for lightning augmentation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Sunday, April 12, 2026