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I understand that cumulonimbus clouds can create lightning, but do not understand how many of them create lightning. I would assume that most multi-cell systems would have lightning, while single cell systems would have less of a chance at creating lightning. Is that right? What percentage of cumulonimbus clouds create lightning?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking how often (in minutes) does a typical cumulonimmbus create lightning... or how often (in percentage of all cumulonimbus) such a cloud will produce 1+ lightning strike? $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Feb 4 '18 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ The latter situation $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Feb 4 '18 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ I edited the question to make that more clear $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Feb 6 '18 at 3:25
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I've done some research studies about the flash rate in various storms. My paper is now in review, but here is some info from this paper:

We have computed measurements for supercell and moderate thunderstorms, counting CG+ discharges. There are 24 times more discharges in supercells than in moderate thunderstorms. Supercells on average had better thermodynamic conditions to develop into a huge storm cluster.

The only help to answering your question is that Cb clouds are not similar to each other. But what I can tell you is that Cb lightning in my studies for CG+ discharges occurred once a minute, whereas for a supercell this number is equal to 24 per minute.

I studied thunderstorms from 19th of July 2015 and 17th of April 2016 over Poland.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are there supposed to be web links in the answer? $\endgroup$ – Fred Feb 3 '18 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ I will link of my publication if you need after it will pass review :) $\endgroup$ – Hiddenguy Feb 3 '18 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ Did you only study those two days of storms? If so, I'd imagine the study has fairly limited usefulness? Would think a longer-term classification of storms coupled with NLDN data in the US could give more robust results. And your results don't give much answer to the question farrenthorpe is asking (though perhaps the exact interest wasn't clear when you wrote it). Regardless, thanks for the answer :-) $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Feb 6 '18 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ I agree @JeopardyTempest, more data would give more robust results. Was the data limited because you had to 'manually' interpret which storms were supercells? Did I understand correctly that you studied the number of lightning strikes per storm? If so: normalization by storm size would give a clue whether supercells strike more often only because they are larger. $\endgroup$ – Communisty Feb 7 '18 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ I took no offence ;) I just tried to explain my statement. Yes I have studied only two thunderstorms, and I know that my studies cannot generalise amount of discharges in different types of storm cells. That was initial attempt to measure differences between them. In case of +CG discharges height of a storm cell is crucial, because positive charges are mostly gathered in upper parts of cloud. So, the higher the cloud, the higher amount of positive discharges, I did not studies negative ones, keep that in mind ;) Thanks for Your opinions; ) $\endgroup$ – Hiddenguy Feb 7 '18 at 22:36

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