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                   Tuesday, August 5, 2008 - 9:52PM

Typical summer lightning lull for Appalachia

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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A glance at the upper air pattern to our west shows wind at nearly all layers moving to the southeast, which will work to steer the big thunderstorm complex currently over Illinois well to our south later tonight. That's an unusual way for an MCS (mesoscale convective system) to miss Charleston this time of year - normally we're getting bypassed well to the north in late July and August. The perfect combination of ambient conditions and timing has kept all the action from reaching us the past several days, mainly due to a sharp drop-off in instability that's been sitting along the Ohio River for the past 48 hours. I've been watching complex after complex charge across the midwest, riding the northwesterly flow and extreme instability down through Indiana and Ohio, only to hit the 'cliff' of CAPE and vanish as it crosses our state line. The storms' arrivals at the crack of dawn aren't helping either, right at the minimum in the diurnal (solar heating) cycle when any instability we do have is at a minimum. The dying storms have only managed to reinforce the low-level cooling and cloud cover over us, making it harder for the next system down the line to survive into West Virginia.

No complaints here though - August is typically our waning storm season, nothing out of the ordinary. And with my cessation of active observing as of late, I've been content to just sleep in and let the weak early-morning storms pass over, not paying any attention to the occasional low rumble of thunder outside. The only prospect tonight looks like a Route 119 south (Coalfields) expedition, but I will probably not venture out unless the system to the west manages to build northward enough to send some lightning closer than the Madison/Danville area (less than a 25 minute drive away). With the upper wind configuration and current radar trends, I don't see that happening. So maybe another night of normal sleep is in store.

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