Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Shocking

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

It’s not your imagination: The lightning show in recent days has been more intense, more brilliant and slower moving than a typical summer thunderstorm.

As usual with the weather, it’s a confluence of effects that has shot hundreds more lightning bolts to the ground than the summertime average in South Florida. National Weather Service experts say it mostly has to do with unsettled upper atmospheric conditions and an atypical wind pattern.

The layman’s perspective: More powerful thunderstorms are arriving later in the day and hanging around longer. Driving is that much more miserable, and working and playing outside are that much more dangerous. People have been hit, but not killed, and houses have been destroyed.

[…]

On Saturday, a series of lightning strikes hit Miami International Airport’s longest runway, leaving three holes. The largest was a foot deep and about 18 inches across, airport spokesman Marc Henderson said. The runway was closed about 80 minutes while crews used quick-setting asphalt to repair it. There were numerous flight delays and nine flight diversions…

I live about five miles south of MIA and I can tell you it was a hell of a storm. Not only was there a lot of lightning and thunder, we had enough rain to the point that I was checking the internet for the prices of gopherwood.

I was reminded of a backpacking trip I took into the Uintah Mountains in 1974. We got caught in a thunderstorm and took refuge in a safe spot under a rock cliff, away from trees and high points. As the storm moved closer, we could feel the static electricity building up in the air, and one girl started to see St. Elmo’s Fire on some of the tree branches outside. She was pretty upset until we explained that it was a natural occurance. She heaved a huge sigh of relief and said, “Oh, wow, I thought I was having an LSD flashback!”