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Severe Thunderstorms Produce 1,100 Lightning Strikes in Less Than 15 Minutes

Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM MST

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- One of the best storms of the summer so far tore through the St. Pete area on Monday evening. To put the icing on the cake, too, the storm came to me, so I didn't have to leave the house to intercept it! The storm surely made you realize why they call the area "Lightning Alley."

The storm formed over Hillsborough County and moved west/northwest. When it emerged over the waters of Tampa Bay and collided with the afternoon sea breeze, it just exploded, growing into a monster severe thunderstorm by about 6:30 PM. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Pinellas County shortly thereafter. The storm came ashore in St. Petersburg with full force around 6:40. At the house, winds gusted in the 45-55 mph range and rain came down so hard you could barely see.

Between 6:30 and 6:45, nearly 1,100 lightning strikes hit the Tampa Bay area, or an average of 1.2 strikes per second. The highest recorded wind gust was 70 mph at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Back at the house, the lightning show was starting. The first close lightning strike hit about 200 feet from me (it's in the video), and then numerous lightning strikes hit within 1/4 mile over the next 20 minutes. Before I knew it, the worst of the storm had passed, but the lightning and thunder continued until after 9:00.

Posted In: Chase Recaps

Tagged: Lightning, Straight Line Winds