Friday, August 22, 2008

Atlanta enhances lightning for neighboring counties

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Call it “the revenge of sprawl.” University researchers studying urban effects on climate say Atlanta’s “urban heat island” effect has invigorated thunderstorms, increased rainfall and stimulated more lightning in Gwinnett County and parts of DeKalb County. Wind tends to blow over Atlanta from the west during summer, making eastern areas downwind particularly susceptible to the city’s influence.

Data from the National Lightning Detection Network from 1992 to 2003 showed “the northeast side of Atlanta is the hot spot for urban-enhanced lightning,” said Tony Stallins, associate professor of geography at Florida State University. Gwinnett County and northern DeKalb experience 50 percent to 70 percent more cloud-to-ground lightning strikes than surrounding rural areas in summer months, Stallins said.

When they aren’t ducking for cover, residents also are reaching for their umbrellas more often in summertime because of increased rain, according to Marshall Shepherd, an atmospheric scientist and professor at the University of Georgia….

Photo of lightning by -codalo., Wikimedia Commons

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