Over the course of 24 hours beginning Friday evening, hundreds, if not thousands, of lightning strikes lit up the skies in and around the Central Coast, alarming residents and authorities.
The strikes, which appeared both on land and at sea, ignited fears of potential wildfires amid the region's dry late-summer conditions, according to KTVU. The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch effective from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, for areas situated above 2,500 feet in the Santa Lucia mountains, including the Los Padres National Forest, as well as the interior mountains of Monterey and San Benito counties.
With the lightning activity now moving away from our area, here's a look at the lightning activity today, courtesy of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (@NOAASatellites) and the RAMMB/CIRA SLIDER (@CIRA_CSU)! #CAwx pic.twitter.com/0P0qPnvfQ9— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) September 9, 2023
While the fire weather watch was in effect, a red flag warning, signifying critical fire weather conditions, was also activated, as the Chronicle reported. However, this warning expired at noon on Saturday
The Santa Cruz Mountains were reportedly among the regions affected by the unexpected onslaught of showers and lightning strikes. Isolated strikes were also reported near San Jose.
The National Weather Service counted the total number of strikes exceeding 6,000, with both “cloud-to-cloud” and “ground strike” lightning, using one data source.
Meanwhile, another data source indicated a slightly lower figure, with over 700 strikes recorded.
On Saturday afternoon, the weather service said at least four small fires had been ignited in the region as a result of the lightning strikes, per KTVU.
Local authorities and firefighting agencies say they are closely monitoring the situation to respond to any new fire outbreaks in the wake of this unusual lightning event.
Feature image of a 2015 lightning storm in San Francisco via Flickr/Joe Parks under Creative Commons license.