I had been waiting for the second week of April with expectations of
another great weather event, if not as good as the one that happened
on April 8th, 9th and most notably the 10th of 2006.
A full account of those great days can be found
HERE.
This year, all things were in place to repeat the lightning madness of
those days a year ago. A warm front was stretching roughly across
south central Florida and a nice trough of low pressure was
approaching south Florida from the Gulf of Mexico. First storms
developed along a line just off shore Tampa, FL. Soon after I noticed a
great looking area of strong thunderstorms just off shore south west
Florida. There must have been a good convergence zone since storms
kept firing in that same area for the rest of the night and the next
morning. I got off work and decided to drive to Flamingo, FL.
Flamingo is not even a town but a little outpost with a small marina
and a large camp area. This all is at the end of the Everglades national
park main road just on the edge of Florida Bay. This place was
damaged during hurricane Wilma but is back in business now.
It is an abandoned place at night and it felt quite eerie to be there
around midnight hours during strong thunderstorms. To get there I
first drove from the Keys for about an hour to reach mainland Florida
and then it is another hour an a half in bad weather on this tiny,
flooded road surrounded by marshland, swamps and tropical pine
forests. Very picturesque place to be during the day but quite the
opposite at night. I enjoyed seeing no people for hours for the most
part of the night, though.
Well, since the minute I left the Keys that night I saw constant
lightning to my north and west. The entire horizon was on fire but
something was not right I simply could not figure it out yet. As per
my weather and GPS software I was now closer than 30 miles to the
now severe warned thunderstorms but I could not see a single
lightning bolt even though the lightning activity was nearly
continuous. As soon as I arrived at the Everglades N.P. entrance, the
ranger on duty just waved me off... there was a severe thunderstorm
in the immediate area and a radar image was showing an area of
strong rotation within this storm now approaching the very location I
was at. This provided for a few tense moments since even with all the
lightning I still could not see anything due to very heavy rain and low
level cloudiness. Then I got hailed on. Getting hailed on in south
Florida is a great experience. It was nothing larger than a dime size
hail and it lasted for no more than a minute. The storm quickly blew
by and kept on going toward Homestead, FL to cause some
minor strong wind related damage later on...
I decided to take a look at this trouble making thunderstorm from the
back side. Most of the Everglades is some of the flattest terrain you
can find and this very fact means there is always a good chance for
quick flooding. I drove on at 35mph and it took me almost two hours
to safely arrive at Flamingo at about one o'clock in the morning.
By now I knew this weather system is going to be a tough one.
In all these hours spend around storms I still had not seen a decent
lightning bolt to come out of skies. Flamingo visit did not help either.
At the end of the road there is a large camp area. There were some
people so I did not want to drive around too much to make these
folks nervous at 1am. I was now only about 20 miles east of the spot
where most of the best storms kept popping, just off shore Cape
Sable. Yet, despite all the non-stop flashing in the skies literally next
to me - no lightning bolts to be seen. By about 2am the whole line of
storms started sagging southward so I simply decided to drive back
ahead of the line of thunderstorms and try to intercept it back down
in the Florida Keys. I hoped and wished for less cloudiness in the
Keys but that was not going to be the case. After another two hour
drive I intercepted the very southern end of the severe warned line of
thunderstorms in the Middle Keys. Unfortunately the lightning
activity weakened significantly so I was only treated to some very
gusty winds and occasional good lightning strike. So I went back
home for the time being. It was 4:30 am by now. There was a
secondary, smaller and less active line of thunderstorms moving in
about an hour before sunrise so I decided to stay awake and at least
see what the sky might look like after a night of intense
thunderstorms. It was a good decision. One of small thunderstorms
had just this nice amount of energy to produce about four double
lightning strikes to save the night. It moved by so quickly I was
glad I was even able to photograph this small storm.
Four cracks of thunder a minute before sunrise and it was gone...
I shot some HD weather video for the rest of the morning since there
were more thunderstorms on horizon and the sky
was simply spectacular.
Overall a good night with great amounts of lightning activity only the
visibility was bad compared to last year. We have more intense
weather coming our way this upcoming Sunday and quite possibly
on Wednesday as well. Good times ahead.
Lightning photograph taken
in Flamingo, FL at 1am on
April 11th, 2007. Most of
lightning activity remained
obscured by ample low and
mid level cloudiness.
A quick lightning barrage
occurred just minutes before
sunrise. Just a few vivid
lightning strikes and
that was it.
South Florida Severe Weather Event Of April 11th & 12th, 2007
FLORIDALIGHTNING.COM
Another double lightning
discharge. Notice how the
lightning bolts happen on the
very edge of the heavy rain
shaft to the right.
(c) 2007 - FloridaLightning.com
A final couple of lightning
bolts and the storm quickly
moved away. It was cold and
wet outside this early
morning.
A disturbed looking morning
sky after all night lasting
thunderstorm activity.
A sunrise that never
happened. There are still
heavy storms in Florida
Straits about 30 miles off
shore at this time.
Last photo of the morning.
The showers and storms
completely cleared the Keys
within an hour after this
photo was taken.
LIGHTNING, WATERSPOUT AND HURRICANE PHOTOGRAPHY FROM SOUTH FLORIDA AND THE FLORIDA KEYS