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.