As the low pressure center which brought the Friday showers moves out of the state Saturday, the skies should clear up for the most part, although there will be enough residual moisture around to allow a few clouds to build up in the afternoon. Temperatures will rebound to the mid-80s on Saturday and will rise to near 90 degrees on Sunday and Monday with mostly sunny skies. Mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies with dry conditions should remain for the rest of the week.
We’ve been talking about the safety of being in an indoor swimming pool during a thunderstorm. All the plumbing and wiring attached to the pool makes it possible for a strike even outside of the building to find its way back into the pool. So it might be a good idea to stay dry until the storms pass by.
On the one hand you might think that it would be easy to figure out just how a bolt of lightning will act. After all, it’s just electricity, isn’t it? And electricity is governed by some pretty well understood equations. But when Ohm wrote his law (V=IR), he was working with circuits in controlled environments. In nature, while the same basic laws apply, the variables V (voltage of the bolt), R (resistance of the air, etc) and I (current of the strike) are all unknown from one lightning bolt to another. It’s very similar to weather prediction. The basic physics of air molecules moving around the earth, and what that movement can do to produce changes in temperature, pressure and moisture content, are pretty well understood. But once you throw in a few gazillion variables that make up the chaotic system that is our atmosphere, it gets a lot tougher to predict how the butterfly flapping its wings will affect Sunday’s picnic.
Lightning is one of the most fascinating and unpredictable of nature’s phenomena. And one of the most misunderstood.
For instance, even though a bolt of lightning looks like it is several feet across, it’s actually barely the width of a pencil. It only appears wider because it is so bright.
On average, there are between 50-100 cloud to ground lightning strikes every second world-wide.
While the thunder from a bolt of lightning can only be heard about 12 miles away, at night under the right conditions lightning can be seen up to 100 miles away.
While most of the time it looks like lightning only strikes once, it is actually a series of strokes in rapid succession (usually 3-4, but sometimes over 20) separated by about 40 ms.
The average lightning bolt is 6-8 miles long, but in 2001, a visual detection system recorded a single lightning bolt that travelled from Waco to Dallas, TX, a distance of 110 miles.