This week's lightning scare became an actual lightning storm on Thursday night, and around 110 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were recorded across the Bay Area during a time of extreme fire danger. The National Weather Service said there were "Too many cloud to cloud flashes to count."
Two small fires were caused by the strikes and quickly extinguished, and at least for now, fears of a repeat of last summer's devastating conglomeration of lightning complex fires are abating.
As of 9 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service called off the Red Flag warning for the area, which had been set to expire at 11 a.m. The reason was that the unstable air and thunderstorms had all moved east of our region.
There were eight confirmed lighting strikes in Sonoma County as of 9:45 p.m. Thursday, and one strike near the Napa border sparked a small fire that was extinguished. Another lightning-caused fire in Mendocino County, near the Sonoma border and the town of Cloverdale, had grown to eight acres as of Friday morning, as the Press Democrat reports. The fire was in a very hard-t0-access, remote area, and it was 0% contained. It has been named the Rock Fire.
One lightning strike was within the burn scar of last fall's Glass Fire, east of Santa Rosa. As of Friday morning, the Santa Rosa Fire Department reported no significant blazes in the city.
*Lightning Update #2*— Santa Rosa Fire Department (@SantaRosaFire) September 10, 2021
Santa Rosa had multiple strikes overnight w/ rain & no significant incidents to report. Residents should survey properties for damage as a result of a strike, including trees that may have been struck & could be smoldering. Report any fires to 911. pic.twitter.com/CIAIriyAun
Local photographer Kent Porter captured a lightning strike behind Mount Saint Helena, and said these were the "brightest bolts of lightning" he'd ever photographed.
I’ll try this again. Brightest bolts of lightning I’ve ever photographed, this exposure over Mt. St. Helena,8 standing sentry over Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties, early Friday morning. @NorthBayNews #CAwx pic.twitter.com/oJKgxBRv2x— Kent Porter (@kentphotos) September 10, 2021
The storms produced a small amount of rain, and about one-tenth of an inch was recorded in Kenwood.
As the Chronicle reports, there was one small fire in the Oakland hills around 8 p.m. that only grew to 100 square feet before being contained.
Fears remain that these weather systems would exacerbate the existing wildfires in the Sierra, but it's not yet clear what impact they will have. The Dixie Fire now stands at 59% contained, and the Caldor Fire is 53% contained as of Friday morning.
Update: Winds from the storms whipped up the northern edge of the Dixie Fire, which made a 13-mile run that was six miles wide, near the Shasta County town of Old Station.
Photo via Santa Rosa Fire Department