Saturday, May 26, 2007


Word of the Week: sferics

After the warmest April ever recorded in France, with a drought in this region from April 4th to May 8th (ignoring 0,6 mm on the 5th), we've been having a real warm month of May, too. For the past week, with temperatures reaching 30° and not dropping below 15° at night, the weather forecast has been "thunderstorms today or tomorrow" every day. I saw some lightning in the distance late in the afternoon a few days ago, but we didn't get our thunderstorm. Yesterday we finally had a little bit of rain and hail (I hate that sound on the skylight above the bathtub! I'm careful not to take a bath during hailstorms).

Le Monde reports thirty departments are on "orange alert" for violent thunderstorms from yesterday until Sunday. Indeed, the observation maps are pretty impressive, and not just today's.

Since I first saw them a few years ago, I've considered the lightning maps from
Wetterstationen, Funkgesteuerte Wetterstation a real treat. But I never thought to wonder what "sferics" is or are. Météo France's glossary (in English, French, German and Spanish) says Electromagnetic wave resulting from an electric discharge (lightning) in the atmosphere. For example:

The animated radar maps of rainfall across Europe at are pretty nice, too.

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