Lightning Safety

I wanted to send out a big thanks to the folks at Alagasco for allowing me to visit today. I did a safety presentation bright and early today at the company headquarters. We discussed some of the topics highlighted this week. This is severe weather awareness week and the topic for today is lightning. Lightning is called the underrated killer and a clear sign that lightning is nearby is the presence of thunder. The best advice is to always practice the 30/30 rule, which means that if you see a lightning flash or hear thunder within 30 seconds, stay indoors! If you don’t hear thunder or see a lightning flash within a 30 minute time period, you may resume normal activity.

The deadly cloud to ground lightning occurs when positive charges at the earth’s surface meet with a negative charge from the base of the cloud. This completes the circuit and a lightning strike is created. Since lightning always travels the path of least resistance, the taller objects at earths surface decrease the distance that the positive charge has to travel in reaching the negative step leaders dropping form the cloud base. That is the science behind taller objects getting struck by lightning and its best to crouch down and make your body the lowest object with respect to your surroundings. Avoid open areas and most importantly try to seek shelter. A vehicle is a safe alternative, but make sure your windows are rolled up. The focus tomorrow will be on tornado awareness.

(Image Source: NSSL) 

Wes Wyatt
WVUA Chief Meteorologist

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Tuesday Afternoon Forecast Discussion Update

Get ready for more big weather changes! A shift to rainy weather will be taking place over the next 24-48 hours. First off, tonight we will have a mostly clear sky, with lows just above the critical freezing point. A cold front is dropping into north Alabama and this feature has been responsible for the gusty wind we felt today. The gusty wind will lessen and become variable overnight, with more of a southerly wind for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a sunny day to start off, with some afternoon high clouds. There will be the chance for a few showers tomorrow night and as a warm front lifts in on Thursday, rain will be likely. There may be enough elevated instability to spark some thunderstorms. Look for the greatest chance of rain during the afternoon hours on Thursday.

As the warm front lifts northward we will have more showers possible Thursday night. A rumble of thunder can’t be ruled out and areas along and south of the highway 80-corridor may deal with a couple of strong thunderstorms. The activity late Thursday night will be more scattered as the wet weather will become more organized along an approaching cold front. The cold front will drop in on Friday and bring another chance for rain and thunderstorms. Some of the storms may grow severe, especially south of Tuscaloosa. A slight risk for severe weather is already in place for southern Alabama. We will certainly keep an eye on things and we’ll be the first to let you know if there are any changes in the severe weather threat.

The wet weather will slowly press east and we could have some lingering shower activity early Saturday over the southeast portions of the coverage area. Sunday will be a partly cloudy and mild day, with rain and thunderstorms likely late Monday. There will be another threat for strong or severe thunderstorms Monday night. Stay tuned!

Wes Wyatt
WVUA Chief Meteorologist