Beam Blockage

Have you heard of beam blockage? If you look at the National Weather Service radar, or if you look at your radar app you might be thinking it doesn’t look too bad compared to what the radar is showing for Albuquerque.

The reason could be one of two things. One, Albuquerque might be getting hammered and we aren’t! Or two, beam blockage.

I took a screenshot during a thunderstorm of radar imagery from the NWS radar in Albuquerque. You can see a clear slot over our area. That’s because the lowest cut of the beam (0.5 degree angle which is what you see on most apps) is blocked by the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges. The radar is located close to the Double Eagle Airport on the West Mesa.

There are over 120 NWS Doppler radars which are shown below. Digging deeper you can see the quality of every NWS Doppler radar (see photo). Those mountains—they can be a pain for NWS radar imagery!

Lightning Myths and Facts

Myth: A tree can act as sufficient shelter during a thunderstorm.

Fact: No. Standing underneath or near a tree is the second most dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm; the most dangerous is being outside in an open space. An enclosed building with wiring and plumbing is the safest place to be during a storm. Trees, sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches will not protect you from lightning.

Myth: Lightning victims carry an electrical charge. If you touch them, you can be electrocuted.

Fact: Not true. The human body does not store electricity. If you are able to, you should give a lightning victim first aid and/or immediately call 911. This is the most chilling of lightning myths because it could be the difference between life and death.

Myth: If you are trapped outside during a thunderstorm, crouching down will reduce your risk of being struck by lightning.

Fact: No. Crouching down will not make you any safer. If you are stuck outside during a storm, keep moving toward a safe shelter.

Myth: Lightning never strikes in one place twice.

Fact: Actually, lightning can, and often does, strike the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall and isolated object. For example, the Empire State building is struck by lightning about 25 times per year!

Myth: Lightning cannot strike in an area if it is not raining and skies are clear.

Fact: Not true. Do not wait until a thunderstorm is immediately overhead and for rain to begin to act. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat, even if the sky above you is blue. If thunder roars, seek shelter immediately. I have seen lightning strike more than 60 miles away from the center of a thunderstorm!

Mark Strobin
Mark Strobin