Category Archives: Lightning

Storm spotter training class schedule for Wichita area

The National Weather Service office in Wichita has released its schedule of storm spotter training classes for the region. They start next week in Sedan and continue through early April.

The classes are free and open to the public. This year’s sessions are expected to last about 90 minutes.

Additional classes will be scheduled by emergency management directors in each county, though those schedules have not yet been released.

Kansas photographers land prominent spots in 2012 weather calendar

When he’s not on duty as a meteorologist at the Dodge City branch of the National Weather Service, Mike Umscheid likes to go storm chasing. He’s captured enough tornadoes and other picturesque storms with his camera to be featured more than once in recent years in the annual weather calendar printed by Accord Publishing out of Denver.

It’s a meaty calendar, packed with climate data, articles about issues and developments related to the weather, and striking weather photography. I watch for it every year.

The 2012 calendar features Umscheid’s photo of a tornado in southern Colorado on May 31, 2010.

“Making the cover was pretty sweet,” Umscheid said. “That was a heck of a tornado.”

Umscheid gained a measure of notoriety – and a meeting with President Bush – when he issued the first-ever “tornado emergency” for Greensburg as a massive wedge-shaped twister bore down on the small Kansas town on May 4, 2007. The EF5 tornado, which was 1.7 miles wide, damaged or destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg. Eleven people were killed and at least 60 injured.

Umscheid has created his own website featuring photos shot on storm chases.

“They use a lot of storm chaser stuff” in the calendar, he said.

Indeed, Roeland Park photographer and storm chaser Stephen Locke has two lightning photos featured in the calendar – including the main January shot, taken near Salina in 2010. I’ve featured Locke on this blog in the past.

Locke’s second lightning photo featured in the calendar was taken near Sedan in southeast Kansas in 2009. It’s a vivid, compelling shot that illustrates the complexity of strong thunderstorms.

I also noticed a couple of prominently featured photographs by storm chaser Roger Hill, whom I met in 2000 while following a storm chase tour around Tornado Alley for a story. There are also photos taken by National Geographic photographer and storm chaser Mike Theiss, who I know through Wichita-based photographer and storm chaser Jim Reed.

Look for the calendar at book stores and calendar shops near you.

Thunder and lightning in mid-December for Wichita

Yes, that was thunder you heard and lightning you saw this morning in the Wichita area.

Yes, it’s mid-December. And, yes, the projected highs in the mid-60s aren’t normal when Christmas is less than two weeks away.

But it’s been even warmer than this in mid-December before. The record high for December 14 is 70, set in 1948.

And we’ll quickly be dipping back to more seasonal temperatures on Thursday, when highs slide to the mid-40s. I’m just grateful all this badly needed moisture is falling as rain and not ice or sleet.

Strong storm moving towards south-central Sedgwick County

Another severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Wichita, this one lasting until 5:15 p.m.

A storm capable of small hail and 70 mph winds was located northwest of Clearwater, and was moving east at 10 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Very heavy rain and frequent lightning are being reported with the storm.

Report of woman being hit by lightning false

Reports that a 56-year-old woman was struck by a bolt of lightning in northeast Wichita during this morning’s thunderstorm are false, authorities said.

The strike was reported at 11:18 a.m., a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. The woman said the lightning came through a window at her townhouse in the 7400 block of East 32nd North. She was treated at the scene for a minor injury, the dispatch supervisor said, and refused transport to a local hospital.

“It appears there was a nearby (lightning) strike, but it did not strike the house or her,” Sedgwick County EMS Capt. Keith Maurath said.

Intense lightning was frequent as a gust front and thunderstorm rolled through the metropolitan area late in the morning. More showers and thunderstorms are possible later tonight.

Storms rolling through Wichita area

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle
Dark clouds, intense lightning, strong winds and spasms of rain are moving through the Wichita metropolitan area this morning.

No warnings have been issued, however, because the conditions are not serious enough to trigger them.

Winds as strong as 49 miles an hour have been clocked at McConnell Air Force Base, said Jerilyn Billings, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. All of Wichita could receive rain from this line of storms, she said, but the highest totals – perhaps a quarter of an inch – will fall on northern and eastern parts of town.

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get a half-inch” of rain, Billings said.

The frequent lightning poses the greatest threat to safety, she said, so people should seek shelter if they’re outside.

A summer’s worth of hail, thunder and lightning

It was a cool, wet summer in Wichita and much of Kansas. That made for a rather tranquil season in terms of severe weather. But there were a few head-turning storms, such as the tornado outbreak in central Kansas on June 15 and a hail storm that raked parts of downtown and west Wichita with large hail on July 8.

The massive hail storm brought with it intense lightning and thunder so loud it sounded like artillery explosions at close range. But by late August, nights had turned uncommonly crisp and days were remarkably mild for that time of year.






Another voice weighs in on the dangers of lightning

Michael Pearce, the Eagle’s outdoors writer, stopped by my desk on Monday to comment on the intense lightning he witnessed early Monday morning northwest of Wichita.

He also wrote about it on his outdoors blog for the Eagle. It’s a good read.

And then the televisions went dark

A single lightning strike knocked virtually every major broadcast television network in Utah off the air for a while Sunday night.

The lightning bolt struck a broadcast tower that is shared by a group of stations called DTV Utah. The blast knocked all of the stations that use the tower off the air, except for a FOX station that has its own tower not far from the one that was hit.

The affected stations remained off the air for about an hour.

Lightning aplenty from Wednesday’s storm

While it was the large hail that deservedly turned the most heads during the intense thunderstorm that rapidly developed near Wichita Wednesday night and hammered the city, the storm featured plenty of lightning, too.

It was fascinating to see the storm blossom out of seemingly nowhere. Within minutes, the lightning intensified from quick flickers in the clouds to many large, bright bolts down to the ground.

What amazed me was how many people were still walking the dog or going for a jog in northwest Wichita even as large lightning bolts were clearly visible perhaps a mile or two away.

Jack Huber shared these lightning shots from his home in southwest Wichita, looking north and east of his back porch.