In this study, an investigation of a new thunderstorm intensity index (TSII) derived from lightning data is performed, along with its relationship to rain, wind, hail and waterspouts as well as instability indices (CAPE, LI, KI, and DLS). The study area is located in the northeastern Adriatic and includes various terrain types in a relatively small area (coastal, flatlands, hills and valleys, and mountain regions). The investigated period covers 11 years (2008–2018). The mathematical algorithm standing behind the TSII is based on the well-established methodology of lightning jump, allowing us to recognize areas where intensification in thunderstorms occurred. Our results suggest that these areas (with a positive TSII) experience significantly higher rain intensities and have higher total amounts of precipitation compared with areas where thunderstorms did not generate a TSII. Moreover, 76% of thunderstorm hail cases were associated with the presence of a TSII within a 15 km distance. The maximum reported wind speed also has higher values on a day with a TSII. Out of 27 waterspout events associated with lightning, 77% were related to a TSII. Due to the good spatial (3 km × 3 km) and high temporal (2 min) resolution of lightning data, the TSII can recognize even a local and short-lived intense system that is often misread by radars and satellites due to their inferior temporal resolution. The TSII is designed to be used as a climatological and diagnostic variable that could serve in lieu of more established data sources (e.g., station measurements and observations, radar imagery, etc.) if they are unavailable.
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