Summer’s coming back…

The downtown Miami skyline, viewed from Okeechobee station, and playing peekaboo in a rainy haze.

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Soon we’ll get our big thunderstorms rolling in again in the afternoons. For those not familiar with them, South Florida thunderstorms are a unique and powerful breed.

In my Skywarn training years ago, they presented us with a unique set of reporting criteria for the area. The major hazards we have from our thunderstorms are intense straight line wind gusts and extreme heavy rainfall causing urban flooding. The NWS Miami office in particular wanted notice of >2 inch per hour rainfall which usually comes as a blinding curtain of rain with very low visibility, any hail (it’s very unusual here due to high temperature) and strong wind gusts higher than 40 mph…. Which are very common!!

Will Smith’s song “Miami” makes reference to the intensity of our storms, though if you listen to the rest of the lyrics it’s clear he never left Miami Beach. “Hundred thousand dollar cars, everybody’s got em”? Naaaah go look on the other side of the bay.

The lightning gets pretty frequent too and is at its best when it lights up the night sky with cloud to cloud bolts. Lightning… I’ve seen it all. Green lightning from airborne salt water, ball lightning, blue jet lightning above clouds, secondary arcs induced near direct strikes, all sorts of wild arcy sparky.

I seem to recall hearing that this is an El Niño year, which tends toward weak tropical (hurricane) activity but really impressive summer thunderstorms.

We’ll see what we get, I guess. For now I just need to stop forgetting my umbrella.

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