Phoenix, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

You may know that I am proud to be a Weather Spotter here in Phoenix for the National Weather Service. By no means am I a meteorological expert, but I do love our state's interesting weather phenomenon and nothing pleases me more than when the National Weather Service hosts classes and when I can do my part to help the NWS. So when I was contacted to help spread the word about their "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" campaign, I was thrilled to help out. Last night it become even more personal as a lightning strike took down a large branch from our gorgeous tree. Thankfully only our carport was damaged, it could have been much worse.  Here's how the events unfolded.

[caption id="attachment_447" align="alignnone" width="666" caption="Lightning charred branch above and damaged carport below"]Phoenix lightening damage[/caption]

 


Look to the Past


The evening started with a few updates about the possibility of rain and thunderstorms. I followed these along with the NOAA maps and readied my radio and storm kit. While the air smelled of rain, the humidity stifled and the wind was slight, the lightning became quite present. Our house flooded a few years back on August  28th, 2008 and the one thing that stuck out that night was the light show before hand. The air had felt super charged and the lightening was extensive early on. It always leaves me quite unsettled as it should with anyone who knows how dangerous it can be. Last night felt eerily similar.

Lightning Skies in Phoenix


The air felt charged with energy and the lightning strikes branched across the entire sky. While many storms find me outside shooting some pictures under the patio, last night I felt very uneasy and didn't even venture out to check the rain gauge. At around midnight I thought it safe and tiptoed out to find only about a half inch had fallen over the past three hours. While this is significant for Phoenix, during Monsoon storms more than that can fall within only a half hour which would have made it more remarkable. Walking back into the house I was taken aback by a huge lighting strike that fell across the entire sky above and lit up the area with its characteristic glow. I booked it in and realized I was taking ridiculous risks. All my training came back in a big mind slap reminding me of lightning's many dangers. Just because the rain and wind had died down didn't mean it was safe to leave the house. I knew that, but took a crazy risk that I will never do again.

A Loud Thud


Later, at around three thirty in the morning a loud thud had us searching for a cause, while darkness kept the source hidden until the morning light. We found a very large branch had landed on the carport and cracked two of its beams. Luckily the two cars underneath escaped damage. A closer examination of the branch showed singe marks and charring from a lightening strike. We will have to keep close monitoring of the tree since these types of injuries can lead to a steady decline and eventual death of even the most healthy tree. It was a personal note to our family that Mother Nature is quite unpredictable and even this quite minor storm had much to say.

Be In the Know with the NWS


As earlier stated, the NWS is running a lightning safety campaign that I covered on Mamita's Creations. It is meant to ensure people go inside at the first sign of lightening, which is usually preceded by thunder. Here in Phoenix, this time of the year can be extremely dangerous as hot temperatures lead many into water recreation outdoors. The weather before a Monsoon storm can be quite nice and many enjoy the drop in temperature before the wind and rain take over. I want to make sure you know the dangers of lightning and spread the word to others everywhere. To date there have been eleven lightning-related deaths and that is eleven too many.

Please visit the NWS Lightning Safety Campaign page for more information and please spread the word.

Thanks and stay safe, Phoenix. If you hear thunder please go inside and stay there.


Comments

  1. [...] When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! July 25, 2011By craftyviviI was contacted by the National Weather Service to take part in their new lightening safety campaign. As a Phoenix Weather Spotter and avid weather geek, I was quite excited but last night a personal event drove the point home. Our beautiful tree lost a large branch after a lightening strike last night. Along with the NWS I am here to stress the importance that, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” You can visit Phoenix Neighborhood Blogger for my of my lightening tale. [...]

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