Multiple lightning strikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains; Cal Fire teams on alert
SAN FRANCISCO — Cal Fire crews were in the Santa Cruz Mountains late Wednesday morning, checking for possible bushfires after numerous lightning strikes were recorded in the dry, dry forest.
The agency took to social media to assure local residents that these were only precautionary visits.
“With multiple lightning strikes in the area, CAL FIRE CZU has enacted its lightning strike plan. Although there are NO CONFIRMED FIRE lightning strikes at this time, we are dispatching a motor to the location of each strike to put your eyes on the area and make sure there is no fire.”
Rapid bursts of rain were reported Wednesday morning from San Francisco to Oakland to Monterey.
The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for areas east of the Bay Area, including Tahoe, El Dorado, Trinity, Lassen and Shasta National Forests.
“Lightning can create new fire starts and can combine with strong outflow winds to cause a rapid increase in the size and intensity of a fire,” the weather service warned.
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In the Bay Area, the humid monsoon plume of humidity arrived on the 2nd anniversary of the devastating August Complex Fire that claimed lives and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in the mountains of Santa Cruz and elsewhere.
“Dry lightning is something we can’t prevent, so we react to what’s given to us,” Contra Costa County Deputy Fire Chief Tracie Dutter told KPIX.
Radar Wednesday morning showed bands of thunderstorms moving through Monterey County into the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“Any storm that develops would be capable of creating dry lightning as the lower levels above the marine inversion remain dry,” the weather service said. “The potential for any convection will spread from the central coast this morning into the Bay Area for the remainder of the day before exiting the region late evening. Apart from concern for lightning, gusty and erratic winds are possible in and near any developing thunderstorm.”
Although it won’t be as hot as Tuesday, when Livermore’s high temperature reached 107, breaking a record of 105 set in 1951, it will still be very hot.
“Temperatures will remain above seasonal averages throughout the interior while cooler conditions will persist near the coast,” the weather service said Wednesday. “Temperatures will return to near normal values by next weekend.”
However, soaring temperatures elsewhere in the state have forced California’s Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, to request voluntary power conservation from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., due expectation of increased use of air conditioning and tightening of power supplies.
Late afternoon to early evening is the time when the grid is most heavily strained due to high demand as solar power generation declines.