Posted at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2012
by Bill Endersen
Not only did Sunday's storms bring wind, hail and flooding rain, but the storms that moved through the metro area put on an incredible display of continuous lightning.
As the storms rolled overhead and flashed constantly there was a remarkable ongoing roar from the clouds. Thunder certainly was a big part of the sound, but a low-level jet of wind aloft might have contributed also. In my neighborhood, lightning struck a large white pine tree a few houses away and left a classic signature.
When lightning strikes the top of a tree it typically heads for the ground through an inner bark layer. On its way down it will blow out a strip of bark before reaching the roots and spreading out. These gouges usually form a scar and heal without killing the tree, unless the tree was split. Humans struck by lightning rarely fare as well.
Flash flood warning Tuesday
More thunderstorms are likely to form tonight mainly in western Minnesota. There is a good chance of storms around the metro area later in the night.
Because any new rain will be on soggy ground, the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for much of central and eastern Minnesota beginning at 4 a.m. Counties included in the watch are identified on the NWS page.
Storms will increase Tuesday, especially as the afternoon heats up. Much of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin are included in a slight risk of severe weather tomorrow. The area most likely to get severe weather late tomorrow will be west-to-east across central Minnesota.
Highs on Tuesday will warm into the low to mid 90s in southern Minnesota. Cooler weather is on tap for Wednesday, although more rain is likely.
For funsies, check out the photos of some cool northern lights that took place this past weekend. They were visible in our part of the world from the Dakotas to Wisconsin and south to Iowa.
Isn't the part of lightning that actually causes most of the damage to the tree (or anything else for that matter), the "return stroke" coming back up from the ground? It was my understanding that the initial stepped leader coming down was comparatively small.