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Pop, fritz— a review of last night’s storm

Good morning, Netizens...

As severe lightning storms go, I suppose last night's episode rates about a 6 on a 10-scale when it comes to severity or perhaps a 7 if you include the blowout of the Avista transformer yard somewhere near Euclid Avenue. It took the lights of downtown Spokane out in one smooth flash, and I laughed despite myself. Those transformers blowing reminded me so much of Ice Storm, where we sat in our front yard watching the pretty blue flashes in all quadrants of the compass as Spokane's power grid began melting down. Fortunately things were restored fairly quickly. It simply will not do to have all those downtown bars sitting in the dark.

I was more than a little bit miffed that the alert I posted last night about the approaching storm beat out all three television stations, which I know Jeanie will enjoy. By the time KREM broadcast their first warning, the storm was already hammering away at Airway Heights. I had been monitoring the approaching squall line from the time it hit Davenport with lightning and hail, which is about when the U.S. Weather Bureau first issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Lincoln County. Given the storm's direction of travel, I knew it was going to hit Spokane.

However, the number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were somewhat overrated by the local weather forecasters. Obviously from the near-raving quality of their commentary at 11:00 PM last night, few if any Spokane TV meteorologists have ever seen a real midwestern-style severe thunderstorm up-close and personal. Instead of one cloud-to-ground strike every 3 minutes, which seemed to be the predominate average in last night's storm, a truly awesome severe storm in the Midwest is one strike every minute and one-half, sometimes even less. Of course we make a big thing out of an F0 (on the Fujita scale) tornado, where people in the Midwest are used to seeing F2 or F3 tornadoes every year, and occasionally an F4 or an F5. Yes, I have seen both F4's and F5's. You never forget such things.

For Spokane last night's light show was impressive. Several storm chasers West of Spokane reported seeing a wall cloud with rotation aloft, which is a sure sign conditions are ripe for a tornado, but fortunately, none appeared.

According to Avista Utilities, 339 customers are without power, mostly on the West Plains and East Valley locations. Hang in there! They're working on it as fast as they can.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.