On this date in 2004, a number of people took shelter from an approaching storm by stranding under trees lining a parkway in Georgia. That parkway was the connection between a parking lot and the beach at Buford Dam State Park. Sadly, lightning ended up striking one of the trees resulting in three fatalities and causing serious injuries for the remaining people. For the people involved, that day started off as a typical summer time day. There were no tornado warnings or thunderstorm warnings in the area. In fact, that was a non-severe thunderstorm that just happened to develop during the day.
This is lightning safety awareness week and you can never be too safe when it comes to lightning. During the summer months we don’t often think about dangerous weather on a daily basis. However, lightning can be as dangerous as it gets. This is due to the fact that, on many occasions, the weather setup in the summer promotes daytime thunderstorm growth. These cells can be rather small, covering small portions of a single county. With breaks in the clouds, the lightning can be tough to see, so your only outdoor warning is thunder. If you are working outdoors and see a dark cloud on the horizon, just remember that lightning can strike an object up to ten miles away from the storm. If you have no place to go, stay away from tall objects and crouch down. One misconception is that lightning strikes metal object’s first. Actually, the taller objects in your vicinity, such as trees, are at the highest risk of being struck. Remember, electricity travels the path of least resistance, so if there is an object that can decrease the path between the cloud base and ground, that object is at a high risk of being struck. Once again, when you hear thunder, go in-doors and wait at-least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to head outdoors.
Now, on to our forecast discussion, that does in fact, include an outlook on thunderstorms. Scattered thunderstorms have redeveloped, but the trend on radar seems to be how we pictured Thursday a few days ago. The coverage of thunderstorms hasn’t been as great, but I do feel some storms now developing over the central portion of the state will migrate in our direction. The lesser coverage of thunderstorms today has allowed temperatures to warm into the middle 90s. Tomorrow I do feel we will have another good coverage of scattered showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the lower 90s and a shower or storm will be possible tomorrow night, with lows in the 70s.
This weekend a front will be dropping into Alabama and this will bring us a good chance for a passing shower or thunderstorm on Saturday and Sunday. Some of the storms could grow strong, with highs near 90-degrees. The newer data is showing the front basically fizzling out over the southern part of the state. We may have a few thunderstorms during the afternoon on Monday, but that would be more likely south of Tuscaloosa. Dry air will be filtering in from the north late Sunday and this will set the stage for dry weather leading into the fourth of July.
Chief Meteorologist WVUA-TV