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Which Days will Storms Strike?

GREENBELT, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Worried about planning a weekend getaway, picnic or party, only to have it get rained out? Scientists can now tell you which days of the week are the best party-planning days.

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Michael Cooney loves a good outdoor party.

"To entertain outside is a treat, especially when the weather is good," Cooney told Ivanhoe.

Climate researchers say if you're party planning, don't pick a day during the week. A new study shows strong storms and more lightning are more likely to hit mid-week. The cause? Pollution.

"There's a lot of research now that shows that pollution definitely affects the way clouds behave -- how they form and how they grow and change," Thomas Bell, Ph.D., climate researcher at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told Ivanhoe.

Scientists suspect that a major cause of mid-week pollution could be truck traffic. Since emissions from trucks usually peak Wednesday or Thursday, the pollution from heavy traffic may be causing up to 25 percent more lightning strikes mid-week than on weekends.

"We may be seeing very different storms and rainfall patterns and lightning behavior in our lives because of the pollution that we put in the atmosphere," Dr. Bell said.

As pollution particles rise through storm clouds, water droplets surround them. As these droplets continue to rise, they freeze … and in a thunderstorm cloud, ice is the perfect trigger for lightning.

As for Cooney, a little bad weather still can’t ruin a good party.

"When the weather is bad, we kind of move everybody inside," he said.

More rain mid-week is not necessarily strongest over big cities with high pollution levels. Pollution travels for hundreds of miles, and suburbs and rural areas are affected too.

The American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Thomas L. Bell
NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
(301) 614-6197

American Meteorological Society
Boston, MA 02108-3693
(617) 227-2425

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