Summer Chasing Comes to a Quiet Close
Posted on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 5:00 PM MST
Focus Shifts South to the Caribbean for the Fall Atlantic Hurricane Season.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- A summer season that started with a big bang in late May came to a rather wimpish close, thanks to a cold front that has brought a spectacular, yet very stable air mass into Tampa Bay and South Florida.
Overall, the 2010 Summer Chase Season was a great success, which got off to a very fast start with two very impressive and photogenic rotating thunderstorms over Manatee County on back-to-back days. The impressive action continued into June, highlighted by the Tampa Trifecta, 3 intercepts in one day, on June 3rd. The action started on a severe thunderstorm just north of Interstate 4 in Thonotosassa (I usually don't chase north of I-4 because you have to drive through the city and there's too many big trees to really see anything, but this one was too good to pass up). The chase continued north into Zephyrhills, grabbing a few exciting pictures before a core-punch through downtown Zephyrhills to get back to I-75. The second intercept of the day scored some incredible lightning pics from St. Pete Beach, followed by another severe thunderstorm that came right over the house just before 1 AM.
The action shifted back into southern Pinellas County as June progressed, highlighted by a very close call with a lightning bolt at the house. The lightning struck about 150 feet from the open door I was standing in, as I could feel the heat and force from the strike (there's a video of the strike in the videos section).
July was the month of the 5:00 Tampa Bay slam, as we had quite a few of them, but did have one week where it rained all week and I was unable to chase because there were no storms.
I nearly got the waterspout shot of a lifetime in August at the Pinellas Point boat ramp. I was on a rotating marine/waterspout-warned cell early, and watched as a wall cloud formed, descended, tightened, and started rotating, all about 1/4 mile offshore of the ramp. A waterspout seemed imminent. The circulation couldn't quite tighten up enough to put a waterspout down before the huge rain shaft got to it. There were confirmed waterspouts at Madeira Beach in central Pinellas and Longboat Key just west of Sarasota.
There were still some pretty strong pop-up storms in early and mid-September, but by the time the first cold front came through in late September, the atmosphere just became too dry and stable to produce any sort of thunderstorm.
The next 6 or 7 weeks, which are often pretty quiet, will be primarily focused on hurricane season, with South Florida being a prime hurricane target. The 2010 Hurricane Season has been very quiet in Florida, but we could see more storms in the Gulf as we get into October. By the time Hurricane Season winds down in late November, the winter cold fronts, which can be spectacular lightning producers, are often coming through in full swing.
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