Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Holy California Thunderstorms Batman!

The American Meteorological Society Mountain Meteorology Conference is in San Diego this week.  Early in the week, it was an extremely difficult assignment to sit in a dark conference room and suffer death by powerpoint when it looked like this outside.

In general, interesting weather avoids meteorologists like the plague and you'd figure that that would be especially true in San Diego which probably has the most benign weather in the U.S.  In August, in particular, the average rainfall is only 0.06".  Today, however, we we treated to a glimpse of a rare beast: The California Thunderstorm.

It didn't look like much on radar, but those are some fairly high returns exceeding 50 dBZ just offshore.

Source: NCAR/RAL
Lightning?  Yeah, plenty of strikes, primarily offshore.

Most of the locals just continued their outdoor recreation, but with thunder and lightning in the area, I headed in quickly from my morning walk.  Only a couple of weeks ago 13 people were injured and 1 killed by lightning at Venice Beach.

With the fun and games over, I'm back suffering death by powerpoint again...


  1. There was nearly an inch of rain in some central portions of the Salt Lake Valley from very slow-moving thunderstorms last night. I think the lake may have contributed as some of it initiated there, but I am not sure if it was really a factor or not. Regardless, it was some nice rain.

  2. Steep lapse rates and good moisture aloft from that trough. This is a great case of elevated convection:

    I think that Venice Beach thunderstorm was also elevated, as you might expect for most deep convection occurring along the California coastline in the summer.