Friday, July 9, 2010

Todd's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of central Minnesota

Saturday: Summery. Very warm and a little unsettled. An isolated afternoon/evening shower or thunderstorm possible west. Winds: SSW 10-20. High: 87

Saturday Night: Scattered showers and storms move through late. Low: 68

Sunday: Scattered showers and storms possible early, the redeveloping late mainly south. Winds: WNW 10-15. High: 80

Monday: Partly cloudy, dry and comfortable. High: 79

Tuesday: Still dry and sunny, but warmer and slightly more humid. High: 82

Wednesday: Very warm and muggy. Growing thunder potential. High: 87

Thursday: Showers possible early, clearing later. High: 88

Friday: Sunny, dry and more comfortable. High: Upper 80s

Lightning - The Underrated Killer

The information below comes directly from the National Weather Service

"At any given moment, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on the earth. This amounts to 16 million storms each year! Scientists that study lightning have a better understanding today of the process that produces lightning, but there is still more to learn about the role of solar flares on the upper atmosphere, the earth's electromagnetic field, and ice in storms. We know the cloud conditions needed to produce lightning, but cannot forecast the location or time of the next stroke of lightning. There are lightning detection systems in the United States that monitor an estimated 25 million lightning flashes of cloud to ground lightning strikes every year!

During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 58 people per year. This is higher than 57 deaths per year caused by tornadoes and average 48 deaths to hurricanes. Yet because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as a risk. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries are likely much higher."

Weekend Weather Safety

After a grueling week of work I, like many, try to make the most of my days off. I enjoy doing/playing/trying most anything as long as I'm outside, though, I am guilty of doing so even when the clouds look a little too threatening. It's hard to stop what you're doing when you're having so much fun, but its important to keep in mind that lightning is a serious matter and its something that, even I, should respect a little more. By the way, did you know that lightning has claimed the lives of 11 already this year?

These are the reports, note the activity and where they were struck:

2010 Lightning Fatality Demographics

So far this year we've seen a lower number of lightning fatalities from average. Keep in mind that July is the leading lightning fatality month with 17 nationwide.

For more on the these lightning numbers, see here:

Lightning strike stuns Salt Lake City man

Friday afternoon, there was a Salt Lake City man that was stunned by a nearby lightning strike outside his home. Read more on the story here:

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Do you know what to do when you hear thunder?
  • Watch for Developing Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms are most likely to develop on spring or summer days but can occur year round. As the sun heats the air, pockets of warmer air start to rise and cumulus clouds form. Continued heating can cause these clouds to grow vertically into towering cumulus clouds, often the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
  • When to Seek Safe Shelter: Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately.
  • Outdoor Activities: Minimize the risk of being struck. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the summer. Where organized outdoor sports activities take place, coaches, camp counselors and other adults must stop activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone has time to get to a large building or enclosed vehicle. Leaders of outdoors events should have a written plan that all staff are aware of and enforce.
  • Indoor Activities: Inside buildings, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from pools (indoor or outdoor), tubs, showers and other plumbing. Buy surge suppressors for key equipment. Install ground fault protectors on circuits near water or outdoors. When inside, wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder, before going outside again.
  • Helping a Lightning Strike Victim: Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, are safe to touch, and need urgent medical attention. Cardiac arrest is the immediate cause of death for those who die. Some deaths can be prevented if the victim receives the proper first aid immediately. Call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR if the person is unresponsive or not breathing. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.
  • Summary: Lightning is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the first clap of thunder, go to a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before you to go back outside.

Lightning Safety Myths and Truths

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Truth: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building it is hit nearly 25 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Truth: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Truth: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Truth: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Truth: Being underneath a tree is the second leading activity for lightning casualties. Don’t do it!

Myth: If you are in a house, you are safe from lightning.
Truth: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.
Truth: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones,Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.
Truth: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter – don’t waste time removing metal. White metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Truth: Lying flat increases your chance of being hit by a ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.

Thunder Chances This Weekend

The point behind the extensive safety lesson above is that we may see some scattered thunder this weekend. In fact, some of the storms could be strong to severe. See the convective outlooks for Saturday and Sunday below.



Weekend Thunder Chance Depicted by WRF

(6 hour precipitation accumulation from 1pm to 7pm Sunday)

We have have some stray thundershowers on Saturday, but there is a better likelihood of seeing showers and storms overnight Saturday into Sunday and again on Sunday afternoon. See the full WRF precipitation animation here:

Have a fun and safe summer weekend - Todd Nelson

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