Summertime and the weather’s weather

Summer starts Friday and it seems like the typical summer weather is shaping up here in the subtropical climes of the Gulf Coast United States.

Here in Cajun Texas folks can feel themselves drained by the hot weather while getting cooled off — and repeat — from a thunderstorm popped up by that “warm, moist air” of the Gulf of Mexco. As I write, a cluster of T-storms, one portion having caused a severe thunderstorm warning at one time, seems as if it is entering western Jefferson County. Jefferson County is where I call home as of now. In fact, I can hear rumbling thunder as I write. Perhaps if I was to look west I would see lightning, but I am to lazy to go outside right now.

During this time of year one may also see what is known as “heat lightning.” I used to watch heat lightning on warm summer nights when I was a kid. My Mom and Dad would talk about heat lightning as if it was some mysterious weather phenomenon. Perhaps it was back in the day. Most people are getting perhaps a bit more sophisticated about weather these days what with The Weather Channel, and Doppler radar and the Internet.

Here is a pretty good explanation for “heat lightning” from the Wikipedia:

 Heat lightning is the name used for the faint flashes of lightning on the horizon or other clouds from distant thunderstorms that do not have accompanying sounds of thunder. This happens because the lightning occurs very far away and the sound dissipates before it reaches the observer. Heat lightning was named because it often occurs on hot summer nights and to distinguish it from lightning accompanied by audible thunder and cooling rainfall at the point of observation.

Of course, growing up during the Vietnam war, I also would often hear the distant sound of what one might think was thunder but had no accompanying light show. This was what might have been from artillery fired at Fort Polk, which was across the Sabine River and into Louisiana some 35 miles away. Hearing something from such a distance might seem far-fetched these days, especially for the urban dweller. But where I grew up was mighty, mighty quiet and remains so for the most part.

Along with the scattered thunderstorm, there just might be the summer drought. Just as possible there might be the tropical storm or disturbance from the Gulf which could turn into a hurricane. A tropical storm is rustling around right now about 55 miles off the coast from Veracruz, Mexico. Probably someone down in that vicinity needs the rain.

What, if anything, will happen in the way of tropical activity for us? It’s just wait and see. Buy you some supplies: Food, plywood, batteries, whatever you need for such an event which hopefully won’t come.

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