This paper discusses the atmospheric dynamics of signal propagation associated with lidar operation through a realistic turbulent atmosphere in the vicinity of chemical plumes. Traditional phase screen models represent the propagation through artificial turbulence without dynamic compatibility. In contrast, three new models, AIRFLOS, CHAFFSIM, and SIMLIGHT have been developed to provide a first principles physics approach to modeling lidar signal propagation through a dynamically consistent atmosphere. Solving the Navier Stokes equations the AIRFLOS model computes the turbulence and index of refraction over complex terrain and structures as a function of space and time, CHAFFSIM computes the chemical concentration motion, and SIMLIGHT models the electromagnetic energy propagation. Together these models allow simulation of lidar propagation through realistic atmospheric environments.