Lightning Strikes 5,000 Times, Sparking 90 Fires in NorCal

Lightning Strikes 5,000 Times, Sparking 90 Fires in NorCal

2 June 2009

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USA — In the past week, thunderstorms produced more than 5,000 lightning strikes in Northern California, igniting nearly 90 fires

“On Sunday alone, roughly 1,200 lightning strikes occurred in the area,” said Basil Newmerzhycky, a Forest Service meteorologist in Redding. Quick response by firefighters held the total acres burned to less than 45 acres.

Since last Thursday, lightning activity ignited 17 fires on theShasta-Trinity National Forest. The majority of these fires were successfully kept to less than half an acre in size.

It’s night and day compared to a similar lightning storm on June 20, 2008. Same number of lightning strikes, but 10 times as many fires because the forest was drier and the storms brought little moisture. Recent lightning is coming with much more precipitation and the fuels are not quite ready to burn actively. Thirty-three hours of lightning in Northern California on June 20 produced more than 5,100 lightning strikes, igniting 1,000 fires in the area, according to the US Forest Service.

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