Holy thunderin’ lightnin’, have we had some gut-bustin’ summer storms over the past few days! It’s like the sky is angry as hell and in a huge lather over something. I know the daytime temperatures have been scorchers, anywhere from 35 - 40 degrees Celsius (95 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit ), so that accounts for some of the turmoil in the skies. Still, this consistent line-up of daily and nightly storms is an anomaly for our area. Oh, we get a few good blasters every year, but this year the storms are becoming an all-too common occurrence, with ever-increasing intensity. I checked out the weather networks and I’ve read through a lot of websites to find some answers…here’s some of what I’ve learned.
Thunderstorms are weather patterns that includes thunder, lightning, rain and often hail, as well. Sometimes, tornadoes are also a by-product of the weather disturbance of a thunderstorm.
The electrical charges in the clouds are caused by fast-moving air that separates the water droplets in the clouds and the resulting electrical charges build up and cause huge electrical shocks, sometimes as high as 100 million volts of electricity! Yikes! I cannot imagine what that must be like, can you? I think a shock from my toaster is horrific…can you imagine 100 million volts? That’s totally beyond my comprehension.
Did you know that lightning strikes the earth approximately 100 times a second? It is thought that the energy generated by the thunderstorm is greater than the explosion of an atomic bomb. That’s amazing to me…and a little scary, also.
Thunderstorms usually last between 30 – 45 minutes and a dying storm can trigger a second storm, so when you notice the storm abating, don’t relax! There could be another one on the way…and then another after that! Funny how the storm seems to last a lot longer than half an hour when I’m in the house or driving in the car in the middle of that storm.
Thunderstorm clouds are dark in colour because of the water accumulating in the clouds. Sunlight doesn’t pass through the water-filled cloud as easily as it does through a cloud containing very little moisture. See, the thing is this…the surrounding clouds that are lighter in colour make the water-filled clouds look much darker by comparison, so we observe the thunderclouds as being much darker than the surrounding clouds!
Have you ever noticed that thunderclouds look darker in the distance than they look as they move overhead? Because we can no longer compare them side by side to the lighter clouds, they appear lighter in colour as they pass overhead. Steve Czarnecki, senior technical staff member for Lockheed Martin, suggests that a great science experiment for school students to conduct would be to use a light meter to measure the brightness of far-off clouds and compare that to the brightness of clouds overhead to show that our perception of the cloud colour is affected by the brightness of the surrounding clouds. Interesting, huh? Very interesting…
So, that’s the Honeynuts Cheerios recap of my research tonight…I’m heading to the library to find a great book on weather and thunderstorms in particular…maybe that will also ‘enlighten’ me about this amazing phenomenon!