Share

Amazing Lightning Stories Recently

Jon Erdman
Published: May 11, 2013

An Electric Gulf Coast!

Hourly rate of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes associated with twin thunderstorm clusters on the morning of May 10, 2013.

Recently, while severe thunderstorms have produced hail, high winds, a few tornadoes, and local flash flooding, one could argue the most compelling stories over the last week or so have been due to lightning.  Let's recount these factoids:

1) Incredible lightning rates

The map above is a screengrab of radar and lightning strikes from Friday morning, May 10, 2013.  You'll notice two main clusters of thunderstorms, one from western Alabama to Louisiana and a second in central Texas.  

Hourly cloud-to-ground lightning flash rates in the two clusters exceeded 5,000 per hour!  These thunderstorm clusters, known as "mesoscale convective systems" (MCS), common to the South and Midwest particularly in late spring and summer, are well-known, prolific lightning producers (not to mention crucial for summer rainfall in the Plains).

The central Texas MCS then surged east into the Houston metro area by late morning, producing flooding rainfall and, yes, frequent cloud-to-ground lightning.  All told, this tweet from the National Weather Service office was perhaps the most stunning of all.

It is estimated lightning strikes the Earth about 100 times each second.  According to a 2004 study by Krider and Kehoe, North America experiences around 30 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes each year, on average.

It wasn't just the lightning rates that were amazing.  Next, let's see what lightning strikes left in their wake.


Featured Blogs

Which Hurricane Model Should You Trust?

By Dr. Jeff Masters
August 21, 2014

In 2013 the official NHC forecast for Atlantic storms was better than any individual computer models at most forecast time periods, although NOAA's HWRF model did slightly better than the NHC official forecast for 5-day forecasts. Once again, the European Center (ECMWF) and GFS models were the top performers, when summing up all track forecasts made for all Atlantic named storms.

July 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
August 19, 2014

July was the 4th warmest such since 1880 according to NOAA and the 11th warmest according to NASA data (the difference in assessments is due to several factors which I’ll discuss in a future blog). It was unusually cool in the central portion of the U.S. while record warmth was observed in parts of the U.S. Northwest, Scandinavia and the Baltic nations. Several powerful typhoons made landfall in East Asia and Hurricane Arthur took a swipe at North Carolina.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.