Study: Atlanta is a hotbed of summer thunderstorms

Study: Atlanta is really a hotbed of summer time thunderstorms

Atlanta summers adhere to a foreseeable cycle: muggy mornings, sweltering afternoons, stormy nights. Think thunder rumbles here greater than elsewhere? You aren’t imagining things. Atlanta “births” storms frequently, based on an analysis of 26,000 Southeastern storm starts. The research, spanning 17 summers between 1997 and 2013, was printed within the Quarterly Journal from the Royal Meteorological Society. Frequent storms-which could trigger flash floods, lightning, hail, along with other dangers-shouldn’t be taken gently, states Alex Haberlie, a doctorate student at Northern Illinois College (NIU) and also the study’s lead author. “City planners, meteorologists, and citizens who reside in or near large cities should know the elevated risk.” This isn’t the very first time our storm patterns have obtained scientific scrutiny. Researchers Master Ashley at NIU and J. Marshall Shepherd in the College of Georgia are among individuals who’ve examined Atlanta storm waves. Interest began within the mid-1990s to evaluate potential storm activity throughout the 1996 Olympic games. We requested Haberlie about his contribution for this niche:

Why concentrate on Atlanta? You may already know, Atlanta encounters lots of thunderstorms. We could identify 26,000 beginning points inside a 17-year period. This is way better for scientific analysis than, say, La, which experienced far less storms in that period. On the top of this, Atlanta is large. Previous studies recommended that the city must be expansive to possess a noticeable climatological impact on thunderstorms. And Atlanta is from oceans or large ponds, that could send breezes in to the city and mute the result of urban development on thunderstorms.

So how exactly does Atlanta rank well for storminess? This research only centered on Atlanta, however a 2012 study by Master Ashley compared Atlanta with metropolitan areas within the Southeast, for example Birmingham. Generally, storm activity increases while you approach the Gulf. Therefore, Miami, Houston, and metropolitan areas nearer the Gulf experience more thunderstorms than Atlanta.

What’s unique about Atlanta is when rapidly storm activity decreases while you escape from downtown-the town encounters the fastest drop-off (moving outward in the Capitol) when compared with Birmingham or Memphis. This means that storm activity levels in rural areas around Atlanta ought to be the norm, but Atlanta’s development changes this. When compared with all of those other U.S., Atlanta is unquestionably one of the top metropolitan areas so far as storm occurrence goes due to its closeness towards the Gulf. The urban heat island only serves to improve this baseline risk.

We’ve had severe droughts. We sometimes hear thunder or see lightning flashes, however it doesn’t rain. Have you compare storms without or with rain? Our dataset was weather radar. Essentially, the animations of yellow and red proven with a TV meteorologist throughout the summer time illustrate regions of very heavy rain fall. Our study tracked these rain fall clusters and noted once they began. We didn’t use lightning data. Likely though, if Atlanta experienced the rain we centered on, lightning happened somewhere within the city. Therefore if whatever you heard was thunder but didn’t experience rain fall, where you are wasn’t a place within our study.

We suspect that drought can alter the regularity of thunderstorms around Atlanta. This can be a research question we’ve considered searching into later on.



likelihood that thunderstorms happened in Atlanta instead of surrounding rural areas

Late mid-day and early evening

probably the most likely here we are at Atlanta storms

This summer and August

several weeks when storms occur most frequently

Factors that may lead to storm frequency within the city

Heat Islands

Asphalt, concrete, and densely packed structures increase heat and alter atmospheric pressure, which could lead to storm formation.

City Development

Tall structures and choppier terrain might make air patterns shift, causing heat to converge.

Urban Pollution

Might “enrich” thunderstorms. Storms are more inclined on weekdays, when pollution is greater, than weekends.

This short article initially made an appearance within our May 2015 issue underneath the headline “Big Bang Theory.”

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