LIGHTNING

By the Numbers: Thousands of Lightning Strikes Hit California

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Our recent lightning storm has left a lasting impression on the Bay Area and the rest of California with more than 350 new lightning sparked fires from nearly 7,000 lightning strikes near the coast and inland on Sunday.

A staggering more than 53,000 total lightning strikes also occurred within a 3 1/2 day period.

The event in many ways rivaled the one in June 2008 when more than 5,000 lightning strikes ignited dozens of new wildfires from the Central Coast to Interior Northern California.

According to National Interagency Fire Meteorologist Nick Nauslar, there was a 48 hour window when over 350 lightning sparked fires started from nearly 7,000 lightning strikes in the region.

Vaisala Group meteorologist Chris Sky documented 53,262 total lightning events of which 13,845 were cloud to ground strikes across all of California in that 84 hour window with another 18,918 lightning strikes over the ocean. Much of the remainder were of the cloud-to-cloud variety.

In total, Vargas says that output equaled roughly 9% of California's total lightning events in less than a four day period.

Unfortunately now, as was the case in June 2008, the state's fire fighting resources will be stretched thin in the coming weeks as fire crews attempt to get a handle on all those lightning sparked fires which also means air quality issues due to wildfire smoke will be lingering issue as well. 

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