Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fire Rainbows & Fire in the Sky Pattern Continues

What a wild ride it has been! Michell Huag sent in a picture of the rarest atmospheric phenomena. Yes! You are looking at a fire rainbow that lit up the sky over Purdue Research Park. This picture does not do it justice. By time she got her camera out it faded a bit, but it is still impressive. Here is another picture from northern Idaho taken on June 3, 2006. It gives you a better view of just how bright fire rainbows can be.

Now that I have your attention let me tell you why this rainbow is so rare. This is officially called a circumhorizontal arc. It is caused by light passing through high cirrus clouds that have to be 20,000 feet or higher. A traditional rainbow is caused by refracted light passing through the backside of a raindrop. The fire rainbow also needs the sun angle to be very high in the sky or about 60 degrees above the horizon. In addition, the ice crystals all have to be lined up just right with their faces parallel to the ground. When the sunlight enters through a vertical side face of an ice crystal and exits through its bottom side it lights up the whole cloud in a full spectrum of colors. Nature certainly put on a show and those brilliant colors even rival those we would see with a northern lights display at night. Although we know the northern lights is created by a whole set of different factors. Look for more rainbows in the sky this week, although I think it would be very tough to find a fire rainbow since they are so unusual.

Look for more typical rainbows like this one captured near Attica and I will make sure to post more rainbow pictures. Send them in with stories. Have you ever walked through a rainbow like I did in Myrtle Beach? I want to hear about it. Since we will have intermittent rain and sunshine for the next couple days this is the perfect set up for rainbows. Make sure to also keep a close eye out for a double rainbow.

Speaking of fire in the sky, nature gave us quite the rude wake-up call on Wednesday morning. Here is what it looked like at 18th Street and 350 South. I barely got my kids to camp before the lightning and torrential rain hit. This was caused by a cluster of thunderstorms which were part of a mesoscale convective system that rolled in. We did not meet the criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning which is wind gusts of 58 mph or greater and or nickel size hail. But there were reports of pea size hail in West Lafayette. The lightning alone should have been enough for a warning but in today's day and age the National Weather Service does not issue warnings for vivid lightning. It is my goal to some day change that way of thinking, especially since lightning kills more people in Indiana every year than tornadoes. Weatherwise, only flooding and heat waves kill more people each year. This is a good reminder for everybody since it is officially Lightning Safety Awarenss Week.

At one point we were up to 1,000 lightning bolts per hour. Here were some of those lightning bolts taken by Paul Hadfield near Decatur, Illinois before they roared our way. I followed my own advice and stayed put at the church until the storm passed. When folks try to drive around in thunderstorms it is one of my biggest pet peeves. I was driving a convertible and of course the top was up with the rain, but you have to remember you need a hard roof to keep you safe during thunderstorms. Convertibles are not safe to be in or to drive around in during thunderstorms. The metal shell of your car is what protects you and not the rubber tires. This is called the "bird cage effect". I stayed put during the thunderstorms and called Weather Team 18's Kelly Greene at the station with a weather update and also contacted TEMA director Mark Kirby. So I was able to stay safe and do my job. I knew we were in good hands with Kelly at the station so I was not going to chance it. The third point to empasize is that most folks are struck by lightning when it is not raining outside. This is because the lightning channel likes to spread out like branches of a tree and it strikes many times outside of the darkest part of the cloud and has been known to travel more than 10 miles outside of the cloud. Many times folks think they are safe when they see that the heavy rain is over or about to begin, but now you know that it is not porch time, but time to get inside and away from windows. The kids at the Congress United Methodist Church made the most of the rain delay by holding spoon and egg races inside.

Today more storms will try to race our way and I do think we could easily see another one to two inches of rain in scattered locations around the area between now and Saturday morning. Mary Anne in Remington had .98" of an inch of rain while Randy in Frankfort only had .15". This will help reduce our chances of any widespread or major flooding but remember localized flash flooding is possible with any strong thunderstorm. Even though we should average out to one to two inches of rain their will always be that spot or two with even more. Today make sure to tune in and I will tell you why I am concerned about another severe weather outbreak here in the Midwest and when it will hit. Timing will be the key for us. I think once again we will have to watch things closely on Friday evening and early Saturday. You know the drill. There is something about Fridays and storms and with the Relay for Life going on I will fine-tune that timing for you as we get closer. As I prepare for tonight's shows here is your weather blog song of the day for you to enjoy: I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain by James Taylor. Enjoy and have a great and safe day! Remember you do not need to cancel plans but have a plan B so you can follow those lightning safety rules.










39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kelly does a great job in the mornings/midday at TV-18!

I am up early as an approaching T-storm jolted me out of bed. Every window in the house was open. The storm was severe warned but is now dying out as it comes near. Rain has just started to fall and lightning is not as severe as when it was approaching.

Mary Anne in Remington

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike for updating your blog first thing in the morning, it is nice to read it when we first wake up. Keep us updated for Friday!

ML

Anonymous said...

Mike, a little more to add to Lightning safty rules: One being cought in a vehicle, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal! Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

Another to add to Myth and Facts:

MYTH: "Heat lightning" occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
FACT: What is referred to as "heat lightning" is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction!

Ray in Lafayette

Anonymous said...

Hey Justin, what is your radar showing?

Anonymous said...

Whew the storm is over for now in Rensselaer. Heavy rain lightning and really dark clouds. I don't have a rain gage at work (Rensselaer City) so I am not sure how much fell. Mary Anne might know. William in Remington

Brow said...

Dark clouds just shaving by north Monticello right now. Mostly south, there is nothing...but looks like the worst is further north than Monticello.

Brow - In Monticello

Anonymous said...

HI William in Remington!

I have a friend who works in Rens who said the storm was pretty fierce there close to Walmart on the south side.

Here in beautiful downtown Remington we scored only a total from two rains of .10 inch with little fireworks. That is fine with me :--)

MA in Remington

Anonymous said...

Hey all radar is showing lafayette is ok the system that went through jasper and newton co is now moveing into pulaski fulton and marshall co.

Justin in Lafayette

Anonymous said...

I was out at wal-mart and man o man is it hot and humid my forecaster has are temp at 85.5* heat index of 91*.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have a small cell entering tipp. co, keeps growing as I watch I now getting darker!
My wx station says its 88.3 has gone down in the last 1/2hr. which was at 91!

brow said...

Yep, radar is showing a new pop-up cluster growing as it moves in. Looks like it will touch West Laff and possibly come my way in Monticello.

It is indeed a steamer out there! Just think of those freezing days where your snot freezes and you loose your breathe going outside in the winter months...it'll make you appreciate the humidity...at least it works for me.

Anonymous said...

Well my snot dosnt freeze but my nose hairs do!!!! BOO!

Anonymous said...

Brow you are something LOL!!!

yep there is a system coming are way will just have to keep an eye on it to see just what it dose...

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

The clouds for this small system is at 350FT so far so good not to bad.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Are any of you a member of CoCoRahs? I know Mary Anne is. William in Remington. My station is a mile north of hwy24 on the east side of I-65.

Anonymous said...

Man OH Man, the storms out west are mean! The are just crossing to IL, line...on our way here by fri!!!

Anonymous said...

Yep Im with the CoCoRaHS I post everyday love every min of it.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Right now would be a good time to prepare for anything. Get your pets ready and your family. We are in for a rough couple of nights. Batteries check, Radio check, food check, shelter check, disaster plan check, adopt an elder or shut in check...

Anonymous said...

The extension office trained me and set me up a couple weeks ago. Love it. William in Remington.

Anonymous said...

I think Friday and Saturday are busts. I feel better now that I said it.

Anonymous said...

Again, we can not increase the size of the Doppler in order to see the timeline for the storm! I cannot read the words on the mini radar.

ML

Anonymous said...

Here in Lafayette we are just now starting to get some lite thunder and rain still watching this system still dose not look to bad for us here in Lafayette.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Okay !!!getting really dark and now thundering, Southern part of Laf is looking bad, this storm is in the dark red on the radar

Anonymous said...

looks bad to me!

Anonymous said...

Clouds just went to 500FT so you see how quick it changed everyone be ready and be safe.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Justin, can you explain to us why the cloud height is important? Thanks.

ML

Anonymous said...

My friend who lives in WL. off Klondike Rd reported very heavy rain, with flooding in the fields.

Anonymous said...

When the clouds are at 200FT or 300FT then the storms are not that bad they start to get bad when the clouds reach a hight of 450FT 500FT or 600FT hope that helps?

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Just checked clouds still at 500FT with possible hail. once this system is out of lafayette it is heading into cass, clinton, white, and carroll, co.

Justin in Lafayette

Brow said...

Looks like you Laff. fellas are getting the worst of it right now.

Currently, there are showers and some lightening in Monticello.

Also looks like more brewing to the east.

[img]http://wlfi.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/wx/RegionalSatRad_full.jpg?referrerDomain=www.wlfi.com[/img]

Anonymous said...

Thanks Justin. Brow, did you mean from the west not east for more storms brewing?

Anonymous said...

The storms are now starting to move to the east north east of lafayette so now the co in the path is carroll, clinton, cass, and howare, co be ready.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

The stronger part of the system that went through tipp is down in southern tipp co moveing into boon, and clinton, co with clouds as high as 550FT. this is not for tipp this is for boon and clinton.

Justin in Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

A severe thunderstorm warning for howard co, till 3:45pm storm could give out high winds and large hain.

Justin in Lafayette.

Brow said...

Yeah, from the West I mean...duh!

I swear I type before I think sometimes.

Looks like even more coming from the WEST again. Out EAST is the severe and fun stuff.

I also see that the forecast has been updated to slight chance of rain on Saturday and sunny on Sunday...need that weekend to clear up for a garage sale!

Gonna try to wrap things up here so that I can head home for dinner.

Stay safe everyone.

(tips hat and quickly exists to the right...or is the east?) :D

Anonymous said...

I just got off the phone with my aunt she lives out in monroe and she said they got hit hard with heavy rain thunder lightning and dime size hail!!!
she said the wind was so bad you could see the rain wipping around the house as well as her garden vegtables was riped up from the ground.

She seen the cars pulled over to the side of the road to wait it out
also said the power went out then pop right back on again. everyone is safe and sound now thank goodness!

Justin in Lafayette.

Brow said...

Just a quick one before I head home for the evening...thought you all would get a kick out of it.

I had a chance to snap a quick photo of another round of rain moving in. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to spend on taking the photo...was just a quick point and shoot job.

Click my name to see it. Also submitted it to the weather team too. :)

http://www.webturd.com/monticello_clouds.jpg

Have a good evening everyone!

Anonymous said...

Lightning strike cancels WLFI 5:00 p.m. news

Updated: June 26, 2008 04:34 PM EDT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The WLFI studio was hit by lightning Thursday afternoon. The station is experiencing technical difficulties and will not broadcast a 5:00 p.m. newscast. We expect to have local news at 6:00 p.m.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Brow...just checked out your website. Pretty neat!

MAB