Lightning Crashes: From the old Lake Hill restaurant in Alexander City, a bolt of lightning flashes across the sky Thursday during an afternoon thunderstorm. | Kenneth Boone

Archived Story

Thunderstuck

Published 7:20pm Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hot air, moisture from the Gulf create summer’s afternoon showers

Hardly a day has gone by this week without dark clouds rolling up in the afternoon.

It turns out there’s a reason why those summer storms wait until after lunch to make an appearance. Afternoons offer a combination of factors that make thunderstorms much more likely.

“You need three things for a thunderstorm,” said Jessica Talley, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “You need instability. You need moisture and you need lift.”

In the summer, moisture from the Gulf moves up into our area, which also creates instability. However, you still need the “lift” and that’s where the afternoon plays its role.

“Thunderstorms are more likely to occur after noon when you get that prime daytime heating,” Talley said. “You get that lift that you need.”

And that’s what caused the afternoon storms, complete with thunder and lightning, that have occurred in the area this week.

While this week may seem more overcast than most, Talley said that most of Alabama, including the Lake Martin area, have actually had less rain this month than in previous years.

To date, Alexander City has only received 1.44 inches of rain. However, more rain is expected this week.