© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Severe weather in Kentucky and Indiana shut down some fireworks. What are peak conditions?

Fireworks over the Ohio River.
Kentucky Derby Festival
Fireworks, like the ones shown from a past Thunder Over Louisville event, don't lead to rain, but rain can hamper displays.

Every week WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew breaks down what we know and what we don't about the climate and weather here in Louisville.

Cloudy or clear skies? Windy or calm conditions? LPM's Bill Burton talks with WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew about the role weather plays in fireworks shows in the latest edition of "Science Behind the Forecast."

Bill Burton: It's time for us to take a look at the Science Behind the Forecast as I am joined by WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew. Good morning, Tawana.

Tawana Andrew: Good morning. I'm wondering how many people got some sleep after yesterday's festivities?

BB: Yeah, a lot of firework activity on the Fourth of July. And in many neighborhoods, the fifth of July is a big day for fireworks, too. So that's our topic today. Fireworks. What do we need to know?

TA: Well, we're keeping an eye on the forecast for all of the continued activity going on into the weekend, right? But the weather is so important not just for if and when we actually have fireworks, but how vibrant these fireworks are in the sky if they do go off. So a couple of things that meteorologists, and of course, those amazing firework crews look at as they're preparing for a show would be cloud cover, wind, humidity, and temperature as well. A lot of people don't think about the temperature one, but it's true. So clear skies are perfect because you have this beautiful blank black canvas for the fireworks to up against. And you see those vibrant colors very well. With clouds, overcast skies, that can actually make fireworks appear a lot more dull, so you don't want overcast skies or clouds around. When you want one of those good firework shows. Strong winds are bad for a couple of reasons. One, they can pull a firework off course and that makes things a lot more exciting than you want them to.

BB: There's a disaster waiting to happen.

TA: Yeah, we don't want that. But also strong winds can help to stretch and warp a firework explosion, so it's not as bright, it's not as vivid and crisp as you would want. Okay, the thing you do want is a little bit of a breeze nothing too crazy, just like breeze because it helps to carry away some of the fireworks smoke, you would think that you would want calmer winds but that's bad because it can keep the smoke building up in a certain area and that can make it harder for spectators to actually see what's going on. Plus, if you have asthma, emphysema, or anything like that, you do not want to be in that area, either.

BB: Not a good place.

TA: Not a good place. Now, there's this tall tale that I always hear on this time of the year or whenever anyone shoots off fireworks really, that fireworks at night can lead to rain the next day. Not quite, not quite because fireworks go off in the lower levels of the atmosphere not at the heights necessary for you know, accidental cloud seeding. But what you will see is increased condensation nuclei from all those smoke particles, and that can actually lead to foggy conditions the next day, if the wind is light and the skies are clear. So you're you're more likely to get fog than you are rain after a firework show who knew exactly that? This is what this is for. Everybody can learn together. Yes, humidity is great because it actually helps fireworks appear brighter and too much moisture in the air actually dulls the color of fireworks. The last thing that you don't want thunderstorms and heavy rain. You can you can you can light a firework in rain but I think the people who are watching the firework show won't really enjoy that that much so much. And plus Lightning is the last thing you want when you have fireworks around because that's incredibly dangerous. So we want everybody to be safe, having good time and of course the weather to cooperate with it all.

This transcript was edited for clarity

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.