EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 26, 2013

Weather is stuck in a holding pattern

Humidity, thunderstorms in the forecast for next week or more

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie
jmackenzie@eagletribune.com

---- — A person’s lifetime odds of being struck by lightning are one in 3,000, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Those odds may be higher over the next week to 10 days, according to National Weather Service meteorologists in Gray, Maine, and Taunton, Mass.

The extended forecast calls for the threat of scattered showers and thunderstorms every day for the foreseeable future.

That’s the result of a combination of factors, meteorologist Steve Capriola in Gray said.

““It’s a combination of heat and humidity, upper level impulse going by, a frontal system to our north,” he said yesterday.

And there’s simply no relief in sight.

It will take a “good strong cold front” to change the weather pattern, according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist in Taunton.

“I haven’t found one yet, but we’ll keep looking,” he joked yesterday.

There’s a very moist air mass hanging over the region, he said, and it will stick around at least through the weekend.

“To a degree, it’s atypical to have a stretch this long,” Dunham said. “It’s a little on the unusual side.”

If he had to pick a day that looks least likely to storm, he said, it would be Friday. But things will pick back up for the weekend.

That doesn’t mean outdoor plans will be washed out, the two men said, rather that storms are a possibility every day and people need to stay alert.

“It’s going to take a change in the jet stream pattern,” Capriola said. “Maybe by the middle of next week, but even that looks very iffy. Summer’s here. We were looking for warm weather and it’s here.”

The temperature will moderate somewhat, dropping down to the low and mid-80s, but the humidity won’t.

The danger associated with thunderstorms is very real, So far this year, seven people nationwide have been killed by lightning, according to the NWS. June, July and August have the highest risks of lightning strikes.

Nearly two dozen Boy Scouts were hurt when lightning struck their camp Monday evening on the Griswald Scout Reservation in Gilmanton. All are expected to fully recover.

Most people struck are men — 82 percent of all fatalities over the past six years, NOAA reports. More than 90 percent of those deaths occurred when people were fishing or participating in other outdoor sports.

The message NOAA is trying to get out is to pay attention, heed warnings and move to safety sooner rather than later. Many victims were heading to or close to a safe spot when they were struck, according to a recent analysis.

The saying is, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

There’s never thunder without lightning because lightning creates thunder. To figure out how far away lightning is, count the seconds between a lightning flash and the sound of thunder. Divide the number by 5 and the result is the number of miles away the lightning is.

Every year, an average of 20 million cloud-to-ground lighting flashes are detected in the continental 48 states. Most strike Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. But New Hampshire and Massachusetts get their share, an average of 23,360 and 25,556 each year, respectively.

No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm. When thunder rumbles, seek shelter in a building or vehicle. Stay there for at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

Don’t use electrical equipment, including corded phones. Avoid plumbing fixtures and stay away from windows and doors. Anyone caught outside with no nearby shelter should steer clear of water, move to a lower elevation and avoid seeking shelter under a tree.