Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Rumblings

For the second day in a row we are being treated to flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder on the University of Utah campus.  In both instances, the thunder and lightning are being produced by storms that moved in from the east or southeast.  Here's the latest showing the thunderstorms that are moving across the Wasatch and towards campus at about 2:15 PM today.

The culprit in driving these storms westward is of course the huge split flow that is present over North America along with an embedded upper-level trough that is stretched out like a rubber band from southern California to Colorado and driving easterly flow across northern Utah at 700 mb.

Given all these thunderstorms, now is a good time to remind everyone that when thunder roars, head indoors.   As discussed in today's Salt Lake Tribune, lightning yesterday damaged an Air National Guard plane and struck a house in West Jordan.  Take a few minutes to read our post Lightning Safety and take steps to minimize your exposure to lightning.


  1. I live in Taylorsville under the main flight path, and it looked like there were at least a couple of planes on approach to SLC in the Tuesday evening (May 7) storm that came close to being hit. Most likely commercial flights. Often they appear to get diverted for a little while during a good lightning storm, but that did not seem to be the case this time.

  2. I tried to google how many people are killed by lightning each year in the Wasatch Mountains and could not get an answer. I have had a few brushes with thunderstorms while mountain biking the trails around Park City. Last year, I purchased a lightning detector. It looks like a pager and has LEDs that tell you how far the last lightning strike was from you. It also tells you whether the lightning strikes are getting closer or whether they are moving away. The range is around 40 miles. Just google "StrikeAlert II 2 Personal Lightning Detector" to look it up. It seems to work. I almost got caught in a storm on the mid-mountain trail in Park City, but made it to Deer Valley lodge just in time. While in the lodge, the LEDs were flashing and the lightning detector was beeping like crazy. It would have been horrendous being out in that storm with no shelter.