Skies came alive late Tuesday in and around New York City as lightning barraged the area during an episode of severe weather. The storms downed a number of trees, caused localized flash flooding and delivered prolific lightning that was responsible for at least three injuries.
Scattered storms of the afternoon congealed into a menacing line by evening while on approach to the New York City metro region. A portion of the line prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for parts of the city and surroundings.
The onslaught of lightning was probably induced by the storm’s slow movement and an area of rain packed with lightning flanking the heaviest rain on its leading edge. Known as stratiform rain, it has unique electric charge known to create plentiful lightning, including an abundance of upward strikes off man-made objects like radio towers, or in the case of Manhattan, tall buildings. (On the radar image above, it is the yellow area of rain just behind the red on the leading edge of the storms.)
Unfortunately, the idea that lightning strikes only the tallest object around is not so clear cut. Case in point, three people were injured in two separate incidents on the ground in the city. One strike affected a soccer game, and the other a pedestrian.
Tuesday’s injuries are a reminder of the dangers of lightning even in a year with historically low numbers for lightning deaths. One of the primary reasons for this is great messaging about the dangers of lightning. While it is beautiful — and we love to look at the pictures — it isn’t something to mess with. Always remember: When thunder roars, go indoors.