July 5, 2008

Blame Cold Canadian Air for Last Weekend’s Wet Weather

By Nate Kelly, Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.

Jul. 5--Last weekend's damaging thunderstorms were formed by a rare cold front, said Ken Gould, meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Tallahassee.

"The pattern is winter like, with cold air aloft (in the upper atmosphere), allowing for quick and intense thunderstorm development," said Gould.

"This time of year, usually the only fronts that come in are from sea breezes, which tend to cause one thunderstorm instead of the multiple developments which occurred this past week," said Gould. Although a cold front during this time of year is unusual, it is not an unexpected occurrence.

The front was formed when the last of the cold air from Canada dipped southward into the U.S., creating a strong upper level low pressure system, according to Gould.

Two homes were struck by lightening on Monday, one in Bluewater Bay and one in South Walton on E. Mack Bayou Road, and a moving van was blown over on the Mid-Bay Bridge when waves of strong storms passed through the area.

Cloud to ground lightning created a spectacular light show and drove visitors off the beach and into their cars, causing traffic snarls all along U.S. Highway 98.

"I wouldn't even sit in my electric chair, the lightning was so bad," said Zelda Taft, a South Walton resident.

On a positive note, the storms did bring much needed rain to the area. Monday's offi cial recorded rainfall was 1.52 inches.

"We needed the rain, we are still making up for the rainfall defi cit," Gould said.

Today, Sunday and Monday have a 40 percent chance of rain during the day and 20 percent chance at night, with highs in the 80's and lows in the 70's, according to noaa.gov.


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