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                Tuesday, July 8, 2014 9:43PM CST    Storm Highway blog RSS/XML feedStorm Highway Twitter FeedStorm Highway Facebook page

St. Louis metro lightning and fireworks: July 4-7

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
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"Storms and fireworks" has been the theme for the first part of July in St. Louis. Three rounds of storms on Monday the 7th provided several sunset/nighttime lightning opportunities. This at twilight:

This same line of storms stayed active after sunset, providing a backdrop for the Cardinals walk-off win with fireworks at Busch Stadium:

Although that image is a stack composite, there was actually one single exposure that captured lightning and the last gasp of the fireworks together:

Early Sunday morning, the low-level jet fired up a few storms south of New Baden. This is a 21-frame stack composite of the scene:

And finally, 4th of July fireworks. Due to the ongoing Arch grounds renovations, the city's display was moved to Forest Park. Although that meant there were no traditional Arch or skyline compositions available this year, a host of (illegal) backyard displays in East St. Louis provided this shot (a 7-image composite) viewed from I-64 at Caseyville:

Last year a lot of people in east st Louis had those illegal fireworks. They were everywhere in the parking lots (the streets became those for that night) right next to parked cars, even one on top of a car!
- Posted by Tim

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                Monday, June 30, 2014 11:54PM CST    Storm Highway blog RSS/XML feedStorm Highway Twitter FeedStorm Highway Facebook page

Chicago skyscraper lightning-fest, triple strike, June 30, 2014

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
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FULL CHASE ACCOUNT AND GALLERY: Chicago TRIPLE lightning strikes to Sears, Trump, Hancock - June 30

The full chase account and gallery of images, along with a video, has been posted at the above link.

was watching here in roseville ca. saw video clip on fox 40 news this morning.
- Posted by bababooey
You got the money shot right there! Excellent shot of 3 towers struck by lightning! You also called the sears tower by its right name. I don't care if it's called the willis tower now, I'm always going to call it the sears tower!
- Posted by Tim
Nice! I got it as well at flickr.com/photos/cshimala/14548339045/ Back on June 23rd 2010 I got it on video which you can view at vimeo.com/12816548
- Posted by Craig from Chicago
Fantastic Set!!!
- Posted by Steve from Atlantic City
Thanks everyone! Craig, Congrats on your catch! I linked to it above. I love the vantage point you have there. I'm especially glad you also got it, as it's proof against everyone calling it fake!
- Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL
Awesome photography Dan. Well done. Did you just happen to be in Chicago, or did you travel there specifically for what they're now calling a "Derecho" event. And speaking of Derecho's.. a much more impressive one is proceeding through Missouri tonight (July 7,8).
- Posted by John from North Texas
It was an impressive one, john. Too bad it fizzled out before reaching st. Louis like everything else this year. In my opinion, this was the worst year ever for storms here. Oh well, maybe next year.
- Posted by Tim
OH YES BALL LIGHTENING IS A REALITY. My husband and I experienced seeing it roll toward our home in Annapolis, Maryland in 1976. The ball rolled away from our home and hit a neighbor's home with a loud bang. The home caught fire.
- Posted by Nancy Todd

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                Saturday, June 28, 2014 8:04PM CST    Storm Highway blog RSS/XML feedStorm Highway Twitter FeedStorm Highway Facebook page

Will human immortality eliminate the need to consider God?

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
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I heard an argument earlier this year that since advances in science will likely allow humans to achieve immortality someday, that the need to consider accountability to a God after death would be rendered obsolete. It's likely true (providing humanity survives in a stable state indefinitely) that we will achieve sufficient advances in medicine to all but eradicate biological threats to human life (disease, genetic defects and aging). Pain and suffering brought on by such threats would also likely be eliminated as well, allowing humanity to attain a state of "heaven" that we "create for ourselves" as I've heard it put. The assertion, therefore, is that we will no longer need to look to a God to provide hope for a heaven after death.

There are several major problems with the idea that human "immortality" will render death, and thereafter facing God, an outdated and unnecessary consideration. Even if conscious humans achieve biological (or even digital) immortality, such "immortality" is illusory, as death is still a certainty that awaits every single living thing in the universe:

  1. Heat death of the universe: We know through science that the universe will likely not be eternal in the future, at least not in the current life-permitting state it is in. If you're not familiar with this idea, read up on the concept of maximum entropy (also known as the "heat death" of the universe) for one such inevitable threat to all life. Other cosmological models such as infinite repeating expansions/contractions (repeating big bangs) do not allow for true eternal life.
     
  2. Physical threats: Achieving biological (or digital) immortality does not eliminate the threat from physical forces of the universe, such as temperature extremes, radiation and cosmic impacts. For example, we know that the earth will someday not be habitable to life due to the natural progression/death of the sun. Even if humans are successful in migrating to other parts of the galaxy, there will be the ever-present threat from all manner of cosmic perils. No amount of technology will protect you from the extreme heat of a nearby supernova or the explosive force of an asteroid impact at 30,000 mph. And what if your source of heat fails? Will your body (or CPU/memory, if your consciousness has been ported into digital form) survive dropping to extreme cold temperatures in the farthest reaches of the galaxy/universe? The chances of some physical cosmic threat killing an 'immortal' conscious human in 100 million years or even a thousand years seems quite high to me, if not certain.
     
  3. Human immortality will not happen in our lifetimes. Even if humanity achieves some form of biological/digital "immortality" in the distant future, you and I will not benefit from it. Our individual deaths are still a more imminent certainty.
As you can see, any state of "heaven" that science will achieve for future human societies will nonetheless not be truly eternal. Disease-free and aging-free life forms will not avoid death, they will simply at best postpone it. From an eternal frame of reference (as with God), a 100-million-year long life is no more remarkable than a 100 year one. Therefore the need to consider death, and what happens afterward, is not eliminated.

More Christianity and Faith Topics >

No matter how many people try to play God, they'll never achieve earthly immorality. That'll only happen after death and resurrection.
- Posted by Tim

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                Sunday, June 22, 2014 10:04PM CST    Storm Highway blog RSS/XML feedStorm Highway Twitter FeedStorm Highway Facebook page

St. Louis severe storms - Saturday, June 21, 2014

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
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HD VIDEO: St. Louis severe storms - blowing dust and lightning

We're in our typical summer pattern here in the Midwest, which means lots of instability to fire storms, but very little shear to organize anything of note. Today, a few stronger storms began collapsing to the northeast of the metro area, sending a busrt of outflow southeast across the city. The winds produced only a few instances of power outages and tree damage, but kicked up plenty of dirt and dust. The lightning quality/cooperation was so-so. Here are a few images from the day:

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                Friday, June 20, 2014 - 3:00AM CST    Storm Highway blog RSS/XML feedStorm Highway Twitter FeedStorm Highway Facebook page

Epilogue

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
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I'm making this post just to formally wrap up my 2014 Great Plains chase season. This was a rough year for chasers in the Plains. The traditional peak season dates did not perform, with the only truly chaseable and spectacular tornado days occuring just outside of my (and most other chasers') typical season cutoff date of June 15. The three-day outbreaks in Nebraska and South Dakota this week were historic and off-the-charts incredible, though they were marred by tragedy in Pilger. That down point alone is enough to quell my remorse for having not been able to chase during this event, but admittedly that string of truly remarkable tornadoes is enough to make me re-evaluate my future chase season structuring.

The reason I tpyically don't chase the Plains after June 15 is that by then, in the average year, the summer ridging has taken hold. The strength of the cap is too much to allow open-warm-sector convection along the dryline, and the jet stream has usually weakened and/or moved into the Northern Plains and Canada. On June 14-17, the cap was just weak enough to allow a few isolated storms to fire in just the right spots, with the rather weak upper support countered by strong to extreme instability. It's also no small factor that I have usually spent most or all of my spring budget by the middle of June, and usually have a lot of work backed up that needs attention. Long multi-day trips to the Northern Plains are usually just out of my budget and work constraints.

Despite the sting of not chasing during such a historic tornado sequence, I am rather pleased with my season. The Midwest has provided most of my more memorable catches this year. I've seen 6 tornadoes in Missouri and Illinois, and only 3 in the Plains (Nebraska on May 11 and June 3). Living here is definitely good insurance against having zero-tornado years! So, I'll consider this a "good" season for me overall. Of course, the Midwest tornado season never really ends, so there may be some more to add on to the 2014 count before all is said and done on December 31.

Here are some stats for the 2014 spring season:

Great Plains chase trips: 3
Great Plains tornadoes: 3
Midwest tornadoes: 6 (4 spring season, 2 out-of-season in February)
Biggest/strongest tornado: Marshall, Missouri - May 10
Personal favorite chase day: a tie between February 20 and June 7
Tornado states: 3 (Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri)
States traveled: 6 (MO, IL, KS, NE, CO, IA)
Farthest point from home: Colorado Springs, Colorado - 861 miles

So until March of 2015, that will wrap up the 2014 Great Plains chase blog. Thanks for tuning in, and stay tuned to the blog for more Midwest chasing action!

Sorry this tornado season didn't turn out the way you wanted it to (to make it worse, the tornadoes turned tragic), but those down years happen. As I'd always say, "oh well, better luck next time". Does el nino affect tornado activity because I don't see a correlation between them. With one imminent, we'll just wait and see what happens.
- Posted by Tim

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