Saturday, September 3, 2016

Weird Thunderstorms In Norway and Siberia

A large isolated thunderstorm in Siberia recently
looked like a very bad nuclear bomb going off. 
Last week, there must have been quite a lightning bolt in Norway.

Hunters discovered 323 dead reindeer in the Hardangervidda region of Norway, home to thousands of reindeer. 

Apparently, a lightning bolt did them in.

Turns out, this isn't a once in a lifetime event for groups of animals dying in lightning strikes. Writing in Forbes, Marshall Shepherd documented several cases of lightning killing herds of animals.

About 600 sheep in Utah once died in a lightning storm. Just this past May, 21 cows were killed in McCook County, South Dakota when lightning struck as they were feeding out of a metal container. About a decade ago, a giraffe died from a lightning strike at Walt Disney World in Florida.

So yes, lightning is dangerous for us humans. It's also a risk for animals caught out in thunderstorms.

Lightning is something to be afraid of, and people in Siberia recently found something else to fear.

As you can see in the photo in this post, a distant thunderstorm photographed recently near the Siberian city of  Kemerovo really, really looked like a nuclear explosion, and of course such explosions are something to fear.

Local emergency services were inundated with calls from people who were afraid a nuclear war had started and everybody was about to die.

Happily, this was just a thunderstorm.  Nobody died.

Usually, the anvil top of a thunderstorm, that big outstretched flare of clouds you see at the top of the storm, heads mostly in one direction or another, as winds blowing near the top of the storm push the clouds along.
Another view of the scary, but basically harmless
mushroom shaped cloud in Siberia that was NOT a nuclear
explosion, but just a thunderstorm. 
Upper level winds must have been near calm above this thunderstorm, so the anvil top of the storm pushed out equally in all directions.

The storm was also isolated, with no sign of other storms developing around it, which is also unusual.

The atmosphere must have been "capped," meaning a warm layer of air was preventing the updrafts that usually lead to thunderstorms. 

However, something made the air start rising forcefully where that thunderstorm developed, so the rising air broke through the "cap" and continued upward, creating this big thunderstorm.

I'm guessing the thunderstorm was probably severe, or at least borderline so, with strong, gusty winds, maybe hail, torrential downpours and dangerous lightning.

But, on the bright side, it wasn't nuclear. It was just beautiful instead. Phew! 

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