Mike's Weather Blog -- June 2007

June 29, 2007 - Lightning Safety Week: Lightning Strike Victims

While a death can be tragic and devastating, injuries from a lightning strike can be just as tragic, if not more devastating. Life can change dramatically for those who get struck by lightning. In addition to physical pain and mental anguish, the strike can mean a loss of income and medical bills that total more than a family's assets.

If someone gets struck by lightning, it is critical that medical attention is received immediately. A lightning strike victim DOES NOT carry an electrical charge and is safe to handle.

In the event of a person being struck, first call 911. Check the victim to see if he or she is breathing and has a pulse, and continue to monitor this until help arrives. If necessary, begin CPR. Cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in lightning fatalities. If possible, move the victim to a safe location. Contrary to what you might have heard in the past, lightning can strike the same place twice!

Believe it or not, only few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns. The body is quite conductive, so most burns are minor. Things that can cause more severe burns are jewelry and metal coins that heat up from the strike and burn the body. In addition, sweat vaporized by the lightning can also cause burns.

When the brain is affected by a lightning strike, the person often has difficulty with mental processes that we sometimes take for granted. Things like short-term memory, multi-tasking, storing new information or accessing old can become quite the obstacle. Victims might also become easily distracted or irritated and exhibit different personality characteristics.

Victims often complain of becoming easily tired after just a few hours of work, and may find it difficult to sleep.

Another very common long-term problem for a lightning strike victim is pain. This is likely because of nerve damage due to the hit. Many survivors must contend with chronic headaches, sometimes intense enough to debilitate the individual.

So make sure you and your family learn all the lightning safety rules we've went over this week to best protect yourselves from lightning when thunderstorms strike.

June 28, 2007 - Lightning Safety Week: Lightning Safety Indoors

When lightning strikes, you need to seek shelter in a house or other substantial structure. To provide shelter from lightning, the structure you are in must have a way for the lightning to ground itself. On the outside, this may be through things like a lightning rod or metal gutters. On the inside, it may be through your plumbing, electrical wiring, or telephone lines.

Small shelters such as on athletic fields, golf courses, or in parks...do very little (if anything) to offer protection from lightning. The same goes for small vinyl, wooden, or metal sheds. There is just simply nothing for the lightning to ground itself through.

There are three main ways lightning can enter your home or building...

  • A direct strike
  • Through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure
  • Through the ground

    Regardless of how it enters the structure, once inside, lightning can travel through electrical, plumbing, phone, and radio or television reception systems. It can also conduct through metal wires and bars in concrete walls or flooring.

    Phone use is the leading cause for indoor lightning injuries in the United States.

    Lightning can travel long distances through electrical and phone wires, especially in the rural areas.

    When lightning strikes, stay away from windows and doors, do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh or rebar. Avoid contact with concrete walls as they too often contain a rebar shell. Avoid washers and dryers not only due to their plumbing and electrical connections, but because the dryer vent can contain an electrical path outside.

    In addition to direct lightning strikes, lightning can also cause power surges that damage electronic equipment sometimes at far distances from the actual strike itself. To protect your property, unplug all electronics and appliances well before a storm threatens.

    Something to keep in mind is that the average flash of lightning contains enough electricity to power a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months!

    June 27, 2007 - Lightning Safety Week: Lightning Safety Outdoors

    The most dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm is outside. Each year, approximately 400 Americans are struck by lightning. On average, about 67 of these people die, and many more are left with forever life changing injuries.

    Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away, and in extreme cases, as many as 20 miles away. Many strike victims are hit either before the storm arrives, or shortly after it passes.

    When outdoors, watch for rapidly changing sky conditions. Darkening cloud bases and rapidly growing cumulus clouds mean you need to start heading for shelter. If you can hear thunder, you are within lightning strike range.

    A good rule to learn is the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule. This simply states if the time between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder is 30 seconds or less, seek shelter immediately. Then stay in that safe place until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

    If you are outdoors and a completely enclosed sturdy shelter isn't available, find a hard-topped metal framed vehicle. Make sure all the windows are up and that you aren't touching anything metal. You can even seek shelter in a cave, but move as far away from the entrance as possible.

    Avoid picnic shelters, sheds, dugouts, bleachers, carports, and patios.

    You do not want to be the tallest object around when lightning is present. In the high country, never remain above treeline during a storm. Never seek shelter under a single tree or small group of trees. In a heavily forested area, you can find shelter in a low spot away from the taller trees if no other options are available.

    Finally, as a very last resort, when no shelter is available and you are caught outside...squat toward the ground on the balls of your feet. Clasp your hands around your knees or head and put your chin to your chest. This helps make you the smallest object around and minimizes your contact with the ground.

    Some additional lightning safety tips when outdoors..

  • Get off bikes and motorcycles
  • Drop metal framed backpacks
  • Avoid cloths lines, metal sheds, and fences
  • Get rid of objects that can become lightning rods (fishing poles, golf clubs, etc.)
  • Get out of any and all water (pools, rivers, lakes) Water conducts electricity
  • Stay off the beach and out of small boats

    If caught in a small boat during a thunderstorm, crouch down in the center of the craft away from all metal hardware.

    When with a group and caught outside, don't huddle together. You should separate at least 25 feet apart from one another.

    So what outdoor locations in the United States have the greatest number of lightning strike victims?

    Open Fields (ballparks, playgrounds) are #1, followed by isolated trees, bodies of water (including lakes and pools) and golf courses.

    Thanks for reading the blog, I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Have a great day!

    June 26, 2007 - Lightning Safety Week: Science Of Storms, Lightning

    Something important to know about a thunderstorm is that every storm produces lightning. What is lightning?

    It is a giant spark of electricity that can occur between clouds, within clouds, or between the clouds and ground. Lightning heats the air it passes through up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit within seconds. This rapid heating causes a shock wave that we hear on the ground as thunder.

    Thunderstorm clouds can grow tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere. Precipitation forms in the clouds as rain, ice crystals, graupel and hail. As the ice crystals and graupel collide within the cloud, it causes a charge separation. The lighter ice crystals take on a positive charge and are carried upward by the updrafts feeding the storm. The graupel takes on a negative charge and fall to the lower part of the cloud. As this process continues, the top of the cloud becomes positively charged and the bottom takes an overall negative charge.

    As the negative charge continues to grow in the lower part of the cloud, the ground under or near the base of the cloud takes on a positive charge. As the cloud moves, the induced positive charges on the ground follow the cloud like a shadow. Farther away from the cloud base, but still under the positively charged anvil (top of the cloud) the ground may become negatively charged.

    When the electrical potential between the positive and negative charges become too great, a discharge of electricity occurs, which we see as lightning.

    Cloud to ground lightning can be either a negatively or positively charged flash. A negative flash usually occurs between the negatively charged lower portion of the cloud and the positively charged surface below or near the cloud base. A positively charged flash occurs between the positively charged upper portion of the cloud and the negatively charged areas surrounding the storm.

    Let's take a look at the negative cloud to ground flash a bit closer.

    In this situation, negatively charged ions that are invisible surge downward toward the ground. These are called step leaders. As the step leader approaches the ground, streamers of positive ions move upward through trees, buildings, and other objects. When these positive streamers meet the step leaders, the connection is complete. The result is a surge of electrical current that moves from the ground to the cloud causing a visible return stroke, which we call lightning.

    It sounds like a lot, but this entire process only takes a fraction of a second. This is why if you are in a thunderstorm and your hair raises, you know you are located in a place where the positive ions are rising upward through objects toward the cloud. It makes for an extremely dangerous situation because the return stroke can occur at any time.

    The process for a positive flash is much like the negative except that the direction is reversed. Positive ions stream down from the cloud top to meet streamers of negative ions shooting up from the ground. When a connection is made, a positive flash of lightning occurs.

    Positive flashes generally make up less than 10% of all cloud to ground lightning flashes. They are capable of striking the ground miles away from the rain portion of the thunderstorm. Because of this, they often catch people off guard. Also, positive flashes usually contain more current and are more destructive because they travel longer distances.

    So what is my best advice for lightning safety? Get to a safe shelter before the storm strikes, not when it hits...and stay there until it is completely over. If you can still hear thunder, you are likely still at risk for a strike.

    How can you tell the distance of a lightning flash from your location?

    When you see a lightning flash, the sound from the shock wave it produces (thunder) almost instantly travels as a speed of 1 mile in 5 seconds. So if the lightning flash happens and you hear the thunder 10 seconds later, that strike was roughly 2 miles from your location.

    June 25, 2007 - 14-Day Forecast Calls For More Heat

    A cold front moving toward Colorado promises some relief from the very hot temperatures over the past several days.

    However, the latest 14-day outlook by the Climate Prediction Center says it will be short-lived.

    Above to much-above normal temperatures are in the outlook for all of Colorado through July 8, along with a moderate to high fire danger, with pockets of extreme fire danger along the western slope.

    The good news is that some weather data is pointing to the potential for normal to above-normal precipitation during the first 10 days of July.

    We'll keep our fingers crossed!

    June 21, 2007 - Heat Continues To Build Across Nation

    Summer will arrive today in the northern hemisphere, and for many, it will feel like it.

    Widespread 90s are expected from Colorado to the Mississippi River Valley over the next 4 to 7 days.

    It will also be very dry for most.

    In the deserts of California and Arizona, temperatures will top out well into the 100s.

    Phoenix is expecting highs in the lower 110s over at least the next 5 days.

    June 20, 2007 - More Heavy Rain Falls Across Texas

    A large shield of rain with embedded thunderstorms formed overnight across Kansas and Oklahoma, and it was pushing south across north Texas early Wednesday.

    This is the same area that experienced severe flash flooding earlier this week.

    The storm system, also known as a meso-scale convective complex, was producing tremendous amounts of rain.

    In fact, the storm system is so large that is sent an outflow boundary of moisture all the way to eastern Colorado.

    Early morning dewpoints were in the 50s and lower 60s along the Front Range and on the plains.

    If we can hold onto some of this moisture today, temperatures will not warm up as much as originally thought, and we will see an increased chance for showers and thunderstorms.

    June 19, 2007 - Summer Solstice Occurs This Thursday

    Thursday will mark the official start to summer across the northern hemisphere.

    The sun will end its six month journey north at 11:06 am MDT as it shines directly over the Tropic of Cancer.

    It will then begin a six month journey back to the south, taking us through the summer and fall seasons.

    This is also the time of year when locations north of the tropics see the most hours of daylight.

    Shadows cast by the sun are also the shortest because the sun will be as close to directly overhead as it gets.

    June 18, 2007 - Cooler Weather To Start Week

    Cooler temperatures are in store for Monday in the Denver area and across portions of eastern Colorado.

    This is a welcome relief for some after Denver set a new record high of 97 degrees on Sunday.

    If you like the cooler temperatures, enjoy it now. The cool down will be short-lived as afternoon highs climb back into the 90s for the middle and end of the week.

    June 17, 2007 - Father's Day Features Hot Temps

    If you have plans to take Dad out for the day, pack plenty of water and sunscreen.

    Afternoon temperatures will climb into the upper 80s and low to mid-90s across lower elevations.

    The high country will see widespread 70s and some lower 80s.

    There will be a few scattered thunderstorms after 2 p.m. to offer a little relief, but most locations will remain dry.

    Cooler weather will arrive to start the new week as a cold front approaches the state.

    June 15, 2007 - Desert Southwest Is Broiling With Dangerous Heat

    Phoenix, Az. hit a high of 111 degrees on Thursday and it was 108 degrees in Las Vegas.

    Both cities are expected to stay between 105 and 112 degrees through the weekend.

    The average high for this time of the year in Phoenix is in the lower to middle 100s.

    Some of that heat will move toward Colorado on Saturday and Sunday as highs climb into the 90s at lower elevations. The mountains will be in the 70s to lower 80s.

    Our next cool down will arrive early next week with a cold front.

    June 13, 2007 - Warmer, Drier Weather In Store For State

    There will be a few lingering showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday across the state, but overall, a warming and drying trend will take place starting Thursday.

    The forecast looks fantastic through Father's Day with plenty of Colorado sunshine and very warm temperatures. Lower elevations will see widespread 80s and a few 90s over the next 4 days.

    The mountains and foothills will see temperatures mostly in the 70s.

    Our next chance for a cool down and unsettled weather will arrive early next week with a new cold front.

    June 12, 2007, 6:00 PM - Heavy Rain Shifts East Of Denver

    Pockets of moderate to heavy rain fell around the Denver metro area on Tuesday, creating a slow rush-hour commute for many. A few locations in the foothills of Douglas and Jefferson counties saw 1 to 2 inches of rain within 60 minutes.

    As of this posting, the heaviest rain and thunderstorms have shifted east of the city, along Interstate 70 near the Limon vicinity. Storms will continue to move east during the evening hours.

    June 12, 2007, 11:30 AM - Tornado Watch Issued Portions Of Eastern Colo.

    The Storms Prediction Center issued a tornado watch late Tuesday morning covering portions of eastern Colorado.

    The watch is valid until 6 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

    Locations in the watch include Cheyenne Wells, Flagler, Burlington, Yuma, Wray, Holyoke, Amherst and Julesburg.

    Stay with 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com for the latest forecast information.

    June 12, 2007 - Isolated Severe Weather Expected Tuesday

    Anticipate unsettled weather across Colorado on Tuesday with the chance for showers and thunderstorms and mostly cloudy skies.

    As we see daytime heating, some storms will gain strength and could become strong to severe.

    The target zone for active weather will be the eastern plains, along and east of Interstate 25.

    Storms that form will have the potential to produce large hail in addition to strong winds and heavy rain.

    Stay with 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com for the latest forecast information.

    June 11, 2007, 3:30 PM - Severe T-Storm Watch In Effect Northeast Colo. Until 10 PM

    The Storms Prediction Center has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for extreme northeast Colorado until 10 p.m. Monday evening.

    The watch includes Yuma, Logan, Phillips, Sedgwick and Washington counties.

    There is the potential for high-based thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening across eastern Colorado with large hail and damaging winds.

    While there have already been a few storms over southeast Colorado, which is not in the watch area, the greatest threat remains near the Nebraska border.

    Click here for the latest watches and warnings in effect around the state.

    Keep track of the latest local radar for your part of Colorado by clicking here . Use the gold navigation menu on the side of the radar picture to change the view.

    June 11, 2007 - Few Strong Storms Expected Monday

    Daytime heating will help kick-off a few thunderstorms across the foothills and eastern Colorado on Monday. Highs will climb into the 80s at most locations, with a few lower 90s.

    Extreme northeast Colorado could see a few strong to severe thunderstorms, with large hail and isolated tornadoes.

    Locations along and east of a line from Akron to Limon stand the best chance to see severe weather.

    Stay with 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com for all the latest forecast information.

    June 8, 2007 - Warming Up In Time For Weekend

    Temperatures over the next few days will climb into the 70s and 80s statewide with mostly sunny skies.

    There will be a few scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms, but nothing widespread.

    Overall, it will be a great time to work in the yard, go for a hike, and to travel around the great state of Colorado.

    June 7, 2007 - Windy Weather Will Subside

    Thursday will start off windy and cool for many, but conditions will improve as the day progresses.

    By sunset, winds statewide should be below warning criteria and will be light to calm in some locations by Friday morning.

    Warmer weather will make a rapid return to the state as we head into the weekend. We could be talking the first 90-degree temperatures of the season for Denver by Sunday!

    We have extensive coverage of the windy weather impacting Colorado right here on TheDenverChannel.com. Just look on the main page, or on the weather page under weather news.

    June 5, 2007 - Cooler air Invades Northwest, Northeast

    A cold front will slip into both the Pacific Northwest and the New England states today, bringing an end to a streak of very mild temperatures.

    The front moving into the northeast will not have an impact on Colorado's weather, but the front over the northwest United States will by Thursday.

    Out ahead of the front, anticipate windy conditions later today and into the day on Wednesday, followed by cooler temperatures.

    There will be an on-going threat for showers and afternoon thunderstorms, with a few turning strong to severe, especially east of Interstate 25.

    June 4, 2007 - Tropical Storm Barry Brings Relief To Southeast

    The Altantic Hurricane Season began on Friday, and no time was wasted with the formation of Tropical Storm Barry off the southwest coast of Florida.

    The storm pushed inland on Saturday near the Tampa Bay vicinity.

    It was responsible for a tornado near Miami that caused minor damage. The weather system also spread heavy rainfall across northern Florida and southern Georgia.

    This was excellent news for the drought stricken region that has seen over 600,000 acres of land burn since late April.

    Most locations saw up to three inches of rain from the tropical storm. A few places saw anywhere from 5 to 10 inches of rain.

    What is left of Barry will spread heavy rains across southern New England today. If you are travling into the New York metro area, anticipate weather delays.

    At the present time, there are no new threats brewing in the tropics if you have plans to head to Florida, the Gulf Coast, or the Caribbean.

    June 1, 2007 - June Will Start Cool, But Warmer Weather In Store

    Temperatures for this first day of June 2007 will be 5 to 10 degrees below normal for much of eastern Colorado.

    In the Denver area, look for middle to upper 60s this afternoon.

    Warmer weather will settle in over the weekend as highs climb into the 70s.

    Looking ahead to next week, lower to middle 80s should return by Monday and Tuesday.

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