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 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


3 thoughts on “Climate change could give clues to future thunderstorm activity

  1. The Climate changes? I thought is was a fairy tale, when somene told me that Seattle use to be under thousands of feet of ice..

    How could that be true, how could the climate change without mankind making it happen, how can the climate stop changing if mankind TRIED to change it….

    Liberal fantasy of control and taxation to control the climate.. that is your fantasy my friends….

  2. We have Climate change because of the TONS of Particulate Matter, black carbon soot and 200 toxic chemicals pumping out of Wood stoves, Fireplaces, Campfires, fire pits, bowls, chimineas, yard debris, beach, bon and wood meat smokers in homes, backyards and campgrounds. Burning two cords of wood produces the same amount of mutagenic particles as: Driving 13 gasoline powered cars 10,000 miles each at 20 miles/gallon or driving 2 diesel powered cars 10,000 miles each @ 30 miles/gallon. These figures indicate that the worst contribution that an individual is likely to make to the mutagenicity of the air is using a wood stove for heating.

    Wood smoke can travel 700 miles and can stay near the ground up to 3 weeks. You dont need to smell smoke for it to harm health, plants, animlas the atmosphere.

    Outdoor fires are exponentially worse! Composting, chipping, recycling, Propane recreation, cooking, campfires and electric meat smokers solve this problemWood

    Smoke kills 60,000 U.S. Citizens a year; 3 million world wide. Respiratory illness is largest killer of infants. 4 People die daily in WA from Asthma attacks. Wood smoke is a major trigger. 1 in 10 children have Asthma. Infants who are exposed to wood smoke pollution early in life are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Asthma by age 5. Infants 17% increase in SIDS risk with wood smoke exposure. Asthma, COPD, Lung Cancer are increasing. 20-year study found that COPD patients are five times more likely to develop lung cancer than normal lung folks are. 80% of air pollution is residential indoor/outdoor wood burning; not traffic/industry. Dioxin from smoke most toxic substance on earth. Dioxin is passed from Mothers to infants. Wood smoke triggers heart attacks. 73% of wildfires are human caused not lightening. 53% of lives, acres, strucures lost and cost to fight are from human caused fires. All wood burning aggravated/caused disease costs all of us billions in medical costs, billions in taxes to fight human caused structure/wildfires and increased home/medical insurance premiums. We all pay for this problem.

    1 in 2 deaths in the USA had COPD as a cause/contributor but 1 in 2 are NOT cigarette smokers. 120,000 people die each year from COPD. 4 people die every minute. 550,000 hospitalizations per year, 16 million office visits per year, and $13 billion per year in medical costs, including home care. A 20-year study found that COPD patients are five times more likely to develop lung cancer. A recent study shows “At least 93 per cent of those who had COPD were not tobacco smokers,”. 23% of COPD occurrs in age groups less than 40 years. It is not just an old persons disease. At least 12 million have undiagnosed COPD.
    More people die from air pollution then car wrecks, fires and poisoning combined.

    Tobacco use is illegal in public places, yet Lung Cancer is the most prevalent, hardest to detect early and treat. It is the number one killer in the USA of all types of cancer. It is the number 2 cause of death from all diseases in the US. It kills more women then breast and cervical cancer combined. It costs billions of dollars yearly!

    Wood smoke pollution particles are so small that they enter homes/schools/​public buildings even with all the doors, windows, heat/ventilation closed. The level of indoor air pollution is typically equal to 70% of the outdoor pollution level. Heat/AC/ventilation exhaust systems PULL smoke in!

    Wood heating is the least efficient heat source; 53% efficient in perfect labratory controlled conditions. Less efficient in the real world.

    Not just short term intense exposure but also Long term exposure to low-levels of wood smoke increases the risk of all diseases.

    The US Surgeon General: research shows there is no safe level of ambient wood smoke. Wood smoke is harmful to human health at all levels!

    The US EPA warns that exposure to a fraction of a nanogram of PAH increases our risk of developing cancer.

    Woodsmoke contains several carcinogens, including benzene, benzo[a]pyrene, formaldehyde. Burning 1 kg of wood in a modern heater produces more benzo[a]pyrene than the smoke from 27,000 cigarettes; more benzene and formaldehyde than the smoke of 6,000 cigarettes. Outdoor burning is exponentially worse! Including wood cooking and meat smokers!!! Composting, chipping, recycling, Propane recreation, cooking, campfires and electric meat smokers solve this problem! !

    Free radicals produced from wood smoke are chemically active for twenty minutes; tobacco smoke free radicals are chemically active for thirty seconds. Wood smoke free radicals attack our body’s cells and stress our immune systems up to forty times longer then tobacco smoke increasing our risk of ALL diseases and infections.

    Statistics show that: 764 PEOPLE (not just a number these are human lives lost) per 100,000 per year in the Puget Sound die of lung cancer. Many of them were NOT tobacco smokers.

    Burning wood is always unnecessary. Wearing long pants, shoes, polar fleece shirts. Using electric meat smokers, propane BBQ’s, adding home insulation, caulking, plastic window film, numerous other inexpensive home weatherization techniques that pay for themselves first year heating cost savings. Recycle, compost, chip, leave in less obvious location on property to decompose naturally (just a few weeks in our climate the pile size decreases dramatically.) Use the compost and wood chips instead of spending hundreds/thousands on bark, mulch,peat-moss, topsoil, weed poison every year. Propane Campfires, fire pits, fire bowls, chimineas, outdoor and indoor fireplaces can all make smores without killing people with wood smoke.

    There is never a valid reason to kill and harm people with wood smoke.

    1 in 2 deaths in the USA had COPD as a cause/contributor
    1194 Men die per year of COPD in Washington
    1394 Women die per year of COPD in Washington State


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