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Meteorology (Weather)/Thunderstorm query


I'm from central CT.  This event has only happened twice in the past 40+ years.  Have never seen it again, anywhere, since the 80s.  I suppose I just want the technical name of the cloud(s) or type of T-storm, and some explanation of why it presented the way it did:  

The first time this happened was mid-day in the summer.  CT summers in July/Aug are very hot and very humid; but on this day, it was in the low 80s and dry.  So dry there was no haze and the sky was cloudless.  I was sitting in a small park in my neighborhood.  Before I saw anything, I started hearing thunder-the deep sounds, the rolling rumbles, not the sharp, nearby sounds.  It was odd-they occurred constantly and I mistook them for the drum corps at the Highs School a few miles away.  There was absolutely no break in the sound and it increased steadily over the next 3 to 4 minutes.  There was no change in wind or temp during that time.  The sky was still pure, clear blue.  At about 5 to 6 minutes, I notice the humidity come up.  I could feel it and see almost a division in the sky between the dry air above me and to the south, and hazier air to the north, northwest.  It moved over me to the south, southeast-but there were no clouds.  The sky simply turned hazy and the wind began to increase.  (I'm not a good judge of windspeed, but I guessing it was about 10 mph.  A little gusty, but not enough to affect objects.)  The thunder sound was now much louder and still absolutely constant.  There was no visible lightning, but then there were still no clouds to reflect off of and it was still sunny.  It took about 3 to 4 minutes for the entire sky to turn hazy.  Then suddenly the wind picked up violently.  Immediately leaves were ripped off trees, small branches broken, and trash cans blown over, and the temperature plummeted to the point were I was shivering.  The thunder and wind was now very loud and becoming sharper in sound.  This was about 1 minute after the sky had changed.  Then I saw the cloud.  It was a bubbling, charcoal-grey, linear mass pushing from northwest to southeast.  It was moving so quickly it's front face was rolling back up on itself-though the top of the leading edge rose like cauliflower and the shape of this bubbling mass was ever changing every second.  What shocked me most was how low it was.  I swear it was at the level of an 8 story building.  There was no cumulous-type cloud above it-just the low, amorphic wall, and it moved across the sky, covering it, in under 3 minutes.  With it, almost the second it came over the trees, came the lightening.  Huge, thick, pink bolts.  None of them branched.  They hit and I could feel vibrations.  They came non-stop, there was never a break in the strikes or the sound.  Larger branches were now falling.  There was no hail.  I'm sorry, but I don't remember how long the storm lasted.  I was 11 when this first happened.   The second time was at night, (andI think it was the same year).  Again I was outside in the park, looking at the stars.  Again it was summer-about the same time of year, and again, it was dry.  So dry that the stars were surprisingly bright for mid to late summer.  Again, the sound was the first thing I heard, but no lightening or the reflection of it, was visible.  Then the push of humidity-travelling in the same direction.  By the time the humidity had passed overhead, again in about 3 minutes, only the brightest stars were visible.  You could actually see a wall of moisture obscuring them, and track it's movement!  Shortly thereafter, the incredible wind, the drop in temperature, and then that frighteningly low cloud and the barrage of single-bolt lightening.... and the CONSTANT noise.  Both storms were fantastic, frightening and amazing.  But WHAT is that low cloud?  Why couldn't I see any anvils or towers-I've always been able to see storms approaching.  Why was the lightening and thunder so different?  The speed of the storm and friction in the atmosphere?  I have never seen a storm with such continuous lightening before or since.  This was not a roll cloud, and if it was the leading edge of a T-storm, why hasn't any other storm since presented the same way.  CT gets lots of T-storms every year.  These were absolutely different in nature.  What do you think?

Sounds like it was a stratus cloud, and you usuially get those when the lifting ahead of the front is relatively shallow. If it was, you typically won't see any anvils or towers. As for the thunder and lightning, I can't think of any scientific explanation for the difference. Hope this helps.


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David Moran


I can answer questions about radar and large scale meteorology. If a question looks like homework, I won't answer it.


I have been a forecaster for many years with a specialty in severe weather.

Full Member, American Meteorological Society

BS in Meteorology, University of Oklahoma BA in Mathematics, University of Oklahoma

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