Monsoon IV (incredible video by Mike Olbinski)

October 29, 2017

We have shared some storm chasing videos and photos by the talented and Emmy Award winning Mike Olbinski over the years in our enews and on social media.

Olbinski’s storm time-lapse and fine art work has been published nationally and internationally, seen in Arizona Highways magazines, weather calendars, movies, documentaries, commercials and television shows.

Mike is based out of Arizona (our old stomping grounds for almost 20 years) so we truly appreciate his ability to capture the annual monsoon.

For those of you who have never been in the southwestern U.S. desert, monsoon runs from June 15th through September 30th and it produces some awesome cloud formations, spectacular lightning shows, massive dust storms (a.k.a. haboobs), flash floods and more.

Mr. Olbinski explains his latest video masterpiece, Monsoon IV, was compiled from footage taken during his 13,000 miles of chasing across Arizona during this summer’s 2017 monsoon, as well as a few places in bordering California and New Mexico. Mike shot over 110,000 frames of time-lapse and says likely only half of it ended up in the final cut. He also says the music in this video is all custom, thanks to the amazing work of Peter Nanasi.

Watch Mike’s incredible Monsoon IV video below and see more of Olbinski’s videos on Vimeo and follow him on his Storm blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Monsoon IV (4K) from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

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NASA video: A Display of Lights Above the Storm

October 13, 2017

Check out this cool video by NASA explaining Transient Luminous Events or basically flashes and glows called blue jets, red sprites and other TLEs that appear above storms.

Blue jets pulse from the tops of intense thunderstorms and reach up toward the edge of space. Red sprites are glows in the upper atmosphere, tied to the presence of large lightning flashes but not attached to the clouds themselves.

The ISS has afforded astronauts the opportunity to photograph a number of natural light shows produced at the tops of thunderstorms as seen in below video…

For more science from above the clouds visit www.nasa.gov/station and see more cool lightning posts here


Flash BOOM! (Stunning lightning photos)

June 28, 2013

Since Lightning Safety week is winding down, we wanted to share some absolutely stunning lightning Friday Fotos. Also please take a moment to read Monday’s Lightning safety tips post … and we included a few links at the bottom with more cool photos and a spectacular lightning strike video. Enjoy!

lightning grand canyon

Lightning storm over Arizona’s magnificent Grand Canyon via allthatisinteresting

lightning in ikaria photo chris kotsiopoulos

This composite of 70 different shots shows a severe lighting storm as it passes over the Greek island of Ikaria. Source: Chris Kotsiopoulos

lightning positive cg by shear atmos

‘Positive CG’. Supercell lightning at Coffs Harbour. Image (c) Kane Hardie 2010

lightning eiffel tower caters news agency

Amateur photographer Bertrand Kulik captured this once in a lifetime shot at the exact moment a ferocious lightning bolt appears to strike the iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: Caters News Agency via NaturePlanet.info

lightning chaiten volcano Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

lightning antimatter beams popsci

Antimatter Beams: Now you know what they look like. John Fowler via Flickr/CC licensed via POPSCI

Also check out some awesome volcanic eruptions and our Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning post … and watch an incredible short video by Tom A. Warner called Lightning captured at 7,207 images per second . Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Lightning Safety tips

June 24, 2013

lightning photo by NOAAAt any given moment, there are almost 2,000 thunderstorms occurring over the Earth. It is estimated that 100 lightning flashes occur each second somewhere on the planet, adding up to nearly 8 million lightning flashes per day.

Lightning occurs most frequently during thunderstorms, but has also been observed during volcanic eruptions, extremely intense forest fires, and surface nuclear detonations according to NOAA.

How lightning forms 

NWS’s Lightning Science page explains lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the ground. In the initial stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground; however, when the differences in charges becomes too great, this insulating capacity of the air breaks down and there is a rapid discharge of electricity that we know as lightning.

lightning photo by NASA

Did you know…

…lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object?! For example, the Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

…the U.S. gets an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year?!

…lightning can travel 60 miles or more, often extending up to 10 miles away from the cloud that formed it?! Generally, however, a bolt travels 10 miles or less.

…most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning.

Some tips to prepare your home for lightning include…

Install a Lightning Protection System
A lightning protection system does not prevent lightning from striking but does create a direct path for lightning to follow. Basically, a lightning protection system consists of air terminals (lightning rods) and associated fittings connected by heavy cables to grounding equipment. This provides a path for lightning current to travel safely to the ground.

Install surge protectors on or in home
Surge protection devices (SPDs) can be installed in the electrical panel to protect your entire home from electrical surges. Sometimes it may be necessary to install small individual SPDs in addition to the home unit for computers and television sets due to different ratings and voltage levels. If a home unit is too expensive, consider getting individual SPDs that plug into the wall for the refrigerator, microwave and garage door openers. Appliances that use two services (cable wire and electrical cord) may require combination SPDs for computers, TVs, and VCRs. (Better yet – consider getting an uninterrupted power supply [UPS] with surge protection and battery backup so you can shut down computers safely.)

lightning photo by lightningphotography.com

Some basic lightning safety tips include…

Listen & watch – If you hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning – take cover as quickly as possible. Be aware that lightning often strikes miles away from the rainfall or thunderstorm cloud.

Hairy sign – If you feel your hair stand on end and feel tingly (which means lightning is about to strike)… crouch down, get on the balls of your feet and bend forward putting hands on your knees (BE SMALL). And do NOT lie flat on ground since that makes you a bigger target!

Unplug it – Before thunderstorms, unplug appliances if possible – even ones on a surge protector and it’s best to move plugs away from outlets.

IF INDOORS – Don’t shower – sounds weird, but wait since lightning travels easily through metal pipes and water can carry an electrical charge. Also avoid corded objects – corded phones, PCs or a mouse conduct electricity (could shock you). Cordless and cell phones or wireless devices are usually safe.

IF OUTDOORS – Try to get to safe shelter quickly.

  • Move away from tall things (trees, towers, fences or power lines) and metal things (umbrellas, motorcycles or bicycles, wire fences, etc) since they all attract lightning.
  • If surrounded by trees, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  • Get to a low lying area but watch out for flash floods.
  • Be small – make yourself a small target by crouching down and put your hands on your knees (and don’t lie flat on the ground since that makes you a bigger target!)

IF IN A BOAT – Get to land and to shelter quickly! Water is extremely dangerous when there’s lightning. If you are caught in the boat, crouch down in the center away from metal hardware.

IF IN A VEHICLE – Keep windows closed and stay out of a convertible, if possible (mainly since you may the highest target if lightning strikes).

If someone is struck by lightning:

  • Victim does not carry electrical charge – they CAN be touched.
  • Call 9-1-1 or local EMS (emergency) telephone number.
  • Check ABCs ( Airway, Breathing, & Circulation) … if victim is passed out – you may need to do Rescue Breathing or CPR.
  • Victim will have 2 wounds – an entrance and an exit burn. DO NOT try to cool the burn with anything. Cover burn with a dry sterile bandage or clean cloth.
  • Seek medical attention, if necessary.

Above safety tips extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! book – download more topics and learn about our funding ideas .

Additional Resources:

NOAA Lightning Facts

NOAA Lightning safety page

NOAA Understanding Lightning

Amazing gallery of lightning photos

Tips on How to Photograph Lightning


Friday Fotos: Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning provides brilliant light shows 10 hours per day

January 25, 2013

According to Amusingplanet.com, the Catatumbo Lightning is one of the coolest natural phenomenon on earth. It occurs strictly in an area located over the mouth of Venezuela’s Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo. Over this relatively small area powerful flashes of lightening more than 5 km in height strike at surprising frequency – during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour.

lightning over Venezuela's Catatumbo River

Theories abound as to why the lightning is concentrated in one area all the time. Some scientists say that the geological features around the Catatumbo River basin contribute to a constant low-pressure system. That would explain why the lightning hasn’t stopped for more that a few months at a time for thousands of years.

lightning over Catatumbo River

Stormchaser.ca writes the frequent, powerful flashes of lightning over this relatively small area are considered by some to be the world’s largest single generator of tropospheric ozone.

Venezuela's Catatumbo River lightning

Catatumbo River lightning

Images: AmusingPlanet.com 

Stay safe and have a great weekend! j & B


Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 22, 2012

Lightning is one of the most underrated severe weather hazards, yet ranks as one of the top weather killers in the United States. According to NOAA, lightning strikes in America kill about 58 people and injure hundreds of others each year. Unlike other weather hazards that often involve sophisticated watches and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service, lightning can occur anywhere there is a thunderstorm.

lightning

And if you’ve ever heard someone say lightning never strikes the same place twice… WRONG! Lightning often strikes the same place several times during one storm.

Did you know…

…there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year?!

…at any given moment, nearly 2,000 thunderstorms can be in progress over the face of the earth?!

…lightning can travel 60 miles or more, often extending up to 10 miles away from the cloud that formed it?! Generally, however, a bolt travels 10 miles or less.

…the temperatures of a bolt may reach 50,000F … 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun?!

…it is estimated that there may be as many as 100 lightning strikes around the globe each second creating a continuous power of about 4,000,000,000 kilowatts of energy?!

…Venezuelan residents on the Catatumbo River get a spectacular show of 40,000 lightning strikes a night almost 300 nights a year?! Source: io9.com

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 24-30, 2012.

Use the following resources to learn more about lightning safety and to find toolkits, handouts, videos and other resources to share with others.

National Weather Service Lightning Safety site

NWS Lightning Safety Tools for Teachers

Lightning safety tips (our post on APN forum)

And download some free safety topics from IT’S A DISASTER!  here


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