3:54 P.M. - THU - 5/19/22 - ...GOING TO FRANKLIN COUNTY GRADUATION? BE ADVISED THERE COULD BE LIGHTNING... HAVE A PLAN JUST IN CASE!
...SCATTERED STRONG STORMS INTO THE EVENING AND OVERNIGHT FOR SOME...
If you're planning on attending the outdoor graduation at Franklin County High School set to start at 7 p.m., please read this post carefully - or if you have other outdoor plans.
We have a growing cluster of storms off to our west that will continue to work ENE through the evening. While the energy with the system will go just to our north, the greatest energy and storm fuel (shown in the shaded colors) - where it's warmest and more humid - is SOUTH of the Roanoke Valley into Franklin County and into North Carolina.
I always worry when a large number of people are packed into a small area or sitting in a open field with scattered storms in the forecast.
No one can say with any certainty exactly where and when a storm may pop up, but I think we need to prepare for possible lightning to be safe.
There are a few storms already near Bristol and Danville. As we go into the evening there may be more storm development in the New River Valley into West Virginia, which COULD move east into Franklin County and Rocky Mount by 8 p.m.
Please note that you "weather app" simply guesses in this type of scenario - there's no real way to tell for sure which hour will be most dangerous. That said, I think all areas should stay weather-aware, have ways to get alerts and updated radar info and have a plan and safe area like a car or sturdy shelter you can get to in less than 10-15 minutes if you hear thunder or an alert or warning is issued.
Lightning is an underrated killer - a single bolt is near 50,000 degrees F, hotter than the surface of the sun. Most deaths occur in open fields during leisure activities. It doesn't matter if the sun is out, lightning can strike up to 15 miles away from a storm in another area. If you can hear the thunder, you are close enough to being struck. Most outdoor sporting events use an 8-mile rule. I'll have lightning and distance data on my phone and will be watching things closely.
NOTE: What's the difference between a Severe Thunderstorm and an regular thunderstorm in regards to lightning safety? NONE. ANY storm, severe or not, has lightning and should be taken seriously, especially if you are outdoors.
FCHS folks, I'll be running a Cable 12 camera tonight on the left side of the graduates, about a third of the way from the stage. If you see me leave my camera and take off, take that as a sign to check the radar and consider seeking temporary shelter. 🙂