Jul 15, 2012

Violent storm turns night into day over Washington- residents claim the ‘most intense’ lightning storm ever seen


Cisco Wilkinson of west Pasco took this photo at 4 a.m. Saturday. “It was so bright, I was temporarily blinded,” Wilkinson said. “It looks like it’s daytime.”
July 15, 2012WASHINGTON – There were a lot of tired people in the Tri-Cities on Saturday after an early morning electrical storm rattled homes and flashed bright lights through windows. The system that led to a severe thunderstorm warning from the National Weather Service also cooled down the Mid-Columbia after a string of 100-plus degree days. The light show and downpour didn’t appear to cause any significant damage, with police and fire officials surprised at how few calls were received. However, it might not be over, with the forecast calling for a slight chance of thunderstorms through the rest of the week as the temperatures heat up again. Those storms continue to bring the threat of lightning sparking wildfires. The thunder and lightning that moved through the area earlier Saturday seemed anything but normal to the dozens of residents who took to social media to describe the experience. Some referred to it on the Tri-City Herald’s Facebook page as “the best storm ever” or the “most intense” they’ve experienced in the Northwest. People awakened by the loud booms reported staying up through the early morning hours because they were fascinated by Mother Nature’s spectacular display, or simply realized that attempts at sleep were futile. A severe weather alert issued at 2:37 a.m. said two storms were located six miles southwest of Kennewick and moving north at 30 mph. Within minutes, the storms moved over the Tri-Cities and seemed to hunker down for almost three hours, with cloud-to-cloud lightning that often was so bright it appeared to be daytime. The National Weather Service’s warning described it as “a dangerous storm,” and told residents to prepare for damaging winds, destructive hail and deadly lightning that could strike the ground. People were instructed to seek shelter inside a strong building, but away from windows. The weather service took two calls from the public reporting hail the size of a quarter in Kennewick. Public reports of wind speeds in Kennewick ranged from gusts of 35 to 40 mph to gusts up to 60 mph that drove the rain and hail sideways. “I’m sure it’s been a blast for people to watch the lightning,” Brooks said. The weather service had been expecting the storms to form for a couple of days because of instability with a low-pressure system and warm temperatures, Brooks said. –News Tribune