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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Popcorn Thunderstorms

Here's a secret. I eat buttered popcorn five times a week. I like it burnt and I only eat the 100 calorie bags to keep my television figure. Let's face it, a fat jolly weatherman is awesome. People liked Al Roker better when he was overweight. But how often do you see a full figured female meteorologist on air?

I digress. See what popcorn does to me? I wanted to talk about the popcorn storms across the state this afternoon and evening. You'll notice on the radar from this evening, the only thunderstorm in the state is in central Connecticut. This stationary cell brought torrential rain and some lightning over the same area for about 30 minutes, and then died out. This is a pop-up (or popcorn) thunderstorm.

These storms are very common in the summer months from the mid afternoon through early evening. Pop-up storms often are not associated with any area of low pressure or any cold fronts to help them along. They rely on daytime heating causing moisture-rich air to rise, creating clouds and eventually showers or thunderstorms. They often die out after the sun sets, due to the loss of daytime heating.

They can also present forecasting challenges. People often laugh at meteorologists for being vague when they say something like "partly cloudy, a shower or storm in spots". But now you know, it's very possible for isolated storms to drop a quick 2" or rain, while some people get nothing at all. It happened today.

In summary, and here's the best part...when you watch the storms on the radar, they look like popcorn! Hence the name.

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