Thursday, July 6, 2017

Is there a #phenology to lightning?

Our early morning dog walk gave us a chance to see a truly spectacular lightning show, mostly cloud to cloud we think. As we were watching, we would have guessed that the storm was only 10 to 20 miles north of us. Radar reports on early morning TV corrected us. The light show we observed was more like 50 to 75 miles away. That's what happens when your frame of reference is nonexistent, even though we paid close attention yesterday to a fascinating NOAA item about lightning types that Paul Douglas included on his weather blog.

thunderhead building, lightning follows?
thunderhead building, lightning follows?
Photo by J. Harrington

Much closer to home, we finally saw a firefly this morning, literally flying under the weather. It took off from a neighbor's field and flew into our woods. I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a firefly glowing, although not for lack of trying. It was reassuring to both see a firefly and dodge the downpours that the storms brought our northern and eastern neighbors.

Thunderstorms and lightning are much more common around here in the Summer than in the Winter, although, on occasion, we've encountered a thunder snow storm. We experience those more often, but not exclusively, in early Spring or late Autumn than in deep Winter.

There doesn't seem to have been much study (that I could find) on the role of lightning in phenology, despite the skewed seasonal distribution of lightning occurrences in Minnesota. Here's a link to one of the few resources I could find. Feel free to share if you know of others.

Garden Under Lightning

Out of the storm that muffles shining night
Flash roses ghastly-sweet,
And lilies far too pale.
There is a pang of livid light,
A terror of familiarity,
I see a dripping swirl of leaves and petals
That I once tended happily,
Borders of flattened, frightened little things,
And writhing paths I surely walked in that other life—

My specter-garden beckons to me,
Gibbers horribly—
And vanishes!

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