Thursday, July 25, 2013

Low Lightning

Reader Gary noted that there has been very little thunder in Fairbanks-land this summer. Fairbanks Airport has had thunder just ine day, and even here on Keystone Ridge I've heard thunder just once. Here is the plot of lightning strikes from the Alaska Fire Service for the two weeks from July 10 through July 24.

The total of 552 would be lackluster for any one day, much less for two weeks in July. Unfortunately, the strike counts this year (and going forward) are not really comparable to previous years data due to significant changes in the AFS lightning detection system. The new system is much more sensitive that the previous system, going so far as to detect separate branches off of the same leader stroke. Additionally, there were numerous technical glitches earlier this summer that made the data suspect.

The two systems were run in parallel for part of last summer, and while there was considerable day to day variation, the new system is counting something like 1.5 times as many strikes as the old system.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rick for taking the time to collect and analyze the TRW's. The AFS change must have been of some benefit, I wonder if it helped them?

    By now you know my curiosity leads to another question...have we somehow lacked an unstable air mass this summer near Fairbanks?

    What weather pattern would contribute to that? There's something to be learned here.