Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thunderstorm relief? Careful what you wish for

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "cooling thunderstorm."

That sounded pretty good Friday afternoon, when the temperature was 104 degrees in Charlotte and it seemed nearly impossible to breathe outdoors.

I was talking to John Tomko, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., around 4:45 p.m. Friday about high temperature records and other meteorological trivia when he asked if I had seen the radar in Indiana. I told him I hadn't been looking at any radar, because the high pressure system covering the Southeast was squashing all chances of precipitation.

"You need to look," he said.

I saw a fairly large area of strong thunderstorms moving southeast out of Indiana, crossing into Ohio.

Tomko said the system, known to meteorologists as an MCS (mesoscale convective complex), could be headed for the Southeast, and possibly the Carolinas, although such systems are not easy to predict.

I thought it might be nice to get a thunderstorm overnight, because it would cool things down.

As it turned out, we were better off without that MCS.  Instead, the system stayed to our north, crossing West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It caused incredible damage.

There were 886 reports of wind damage, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. In addition, there were two reports of tornadoes and 57 of hail.

More than 2 million customers lost electric power late Friday and early Saturday. That meant millions of people spent part or all of Saturday without electricity and air conditioning on a day when temperatures approached 100 degrees. And it meant crews responsible for cleaning the damage were outdoors, doing heavy work in that heat.

Friday night's MCS stayed to our north because of the position and strength of the high pressure system responsible for our heat.  That high pressure dome is expected to weaken slightly and move a bit west on Sunday, possibly putting the Charlotte region in the path of MCS systems Sunday and Monday nights.

A little rain would be nice, but we don't need what happened Friday night in the Mid-Atlantic.


Anonymous said...

No one wants storm damage of any kind. I can deal with the heat as long as the power stays on.

Oh, and this "prove you're not a robot" thing you have going on...typing the two words? They get stupider and stupider, and more and more illegible. That's probably limiting comments and interest in your blog. Just so you'll know.

freddy said...

My niece and nephew up in DC posted some facebook pictures of tree limbs poking through their dining room wall. Not the window, the wall.

This was a bad one. Good thing for this "heat dome" we've been sweltering under, eh?

Anonymous said...

The Observer can't seem to settle on a temperature. On the home page, it says 102 at 4:00 p.m. Click on the "more details" link, and it says 92 degrees at 4:00 p.m. Any chance of getting some across-site consistency on temperatures?

Anonymous said...

111 today at 4 o'clock in mooresville.