Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

Climate change could give clues to future thunderstorm activity

The issue of global warming is an oft debated subject these days, and with such impressive heat and drought conditions plaguing the country, it certainly appears we’re on our way towards a warmer climate. However some recent studies suggest several factors could actually be cooling the climate, and the NOAA announced last week that the back-to-back La Nina years in 2010/2011 cooled the globe.

Wherever you stand on the global warming issue (and the debate will likely never end despite gripping evidence on both sides of the issue), one thing is for sure: no one seems to be denying the fact that the climate is changing. Take our own weather into account: when was the last time we had two weeks in a row with consistent thunderstorms, high humidity and rain in mid-late July? Thunderstorms are rare enough, yet they’ve been happening with such intensity and frequency you’d almost think we were on the east coast. But is this the future of the Pacific Northwest during climate change? To satisfy the answer in regards to thunderstorms, I’d like to copy a few lines from the ScienceDaily.com website:

“Researchers are working to identify exactly how a changing climate will impact specific elements of weather, such as clouds, rainfall, and lightning. A Tel Aviv University researcher has predicted that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity.

“This could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, says Prof. Colin Price, Head of the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University. In an ongoing project to determine the impact of climate change on the world’s lightning and thunderstorm patterns, he and his colleagues have run computer climate models and studied real-life examples of climate change, such as the El Nino cycle in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, to determine how changing weather conditions impact storms.

An increase in lightning and intense thunderstorms can have severe implications for the environment, says Prof. Price. More frequent and intense wildfires could result in parts of the US, such as the Rockies, in which many fires are started by lightning. A drier environment could also lead fires to spread more widely and quickly, making them more devastating than ever before. These fires would also release far more smoke into the air than before.

Researchers predict fewer but more intense rainstorms in other regions, a change that could result in flash-flooding, says Prof. Price. In Italy and Spain, heavier storms are already causing increased run-off to rivers and the sea, and a lack of water being retained in groundwater and lakes. The same is true in the Middle East, where small periods of intense rain are threatening already scarce water resources.” To read the full artice, click here.

So who knows…what we’re experiencing this July could be the “new normal”. 😉

Actually, “real” normal should be kicking into gear early next week after our routine of storm systems head on out of here. Boy they’ve been taking their time, haven’t they? In case you’re worried about your weekend plans being ruined, let me at least assure you one out of your two weekend days will be pleasant. This time, the nice weather day will be tomorrow as a rather flat ridge of high pressure builds in which means morning clouds and possible drizzle, followed by afternoon sun. Highs will “soar” into the mid 70s.

Sunday and Monday are shaping up to be rather cloudy/showery/cool…kind of like today without the rumbles and flashes of lighting. Highs will drop into the 60s to near 70 degrees.

And then…finally…we warm up and clear out. But shhh! We need to be more discreet about the forecast. It seems like every time there’s a mention of sun or mild weather in the 7 day forecast, some curve ball is thrown and we’re stuck with rain and 65 degrees! But most models seem to agree on at least warmer and sunnier weather as we head into next week. More updates to come! For now, have a great weekend everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap