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11,993 Lightning Strikes Hit California

California Lightning Strikes

California Lightning Strikes

California Lightning Strikes

NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 12, 2014 – YubaNet –

As expected, lightning activity was very high yesterday. 11,993 lightning strikes hit the ground in California yesterday, with many more cloud-only lightning. The increased activity sparked a multitude of small fires all over the Sierra Nevada and foothills. Most of these fires are fully contained, firefighters were pre-positioned to respond immediately to any new starts.

Today, air attack planes will fly reconnaissance and alert ground resources to any new starts. The Fire Weather forecast also mentions an increased risk of “sleeper fires” caused by yesterday’s lightning strikes. “The small low that was SW of North Ops the past two days accelerated northeastward overnight, being drawn up by the flow ahead of a larger/stronger Pacific trough now approaching Oregon. Our NOPS atmosphere will actually be more stable by late today than this morning, other than in and near the NW corner of the state ahead of that second low. Of concern is afternoon drying and stronger South to WSW gradient winds (gusts 25-40 mph) for areas NE of a Yreka-Shasta Lake-Lake Tahoe line later today, and again in portions of that area Wednesday p.m.. Due to the lightning of the past 2 1/2 days the winds could cause multiple ‘sleeper fires’ to emerge later today and/or Wednesday.”

61 new, mostly lightning-caused fires acres across Northern California including 33 on National Forests are being actively fought right now.

The lightning activity increased fire behavior on the large incidents. The July Complex reported extreme fire behavior, rapid rates of spread and crown runs during a period of exponential fire growth.

The Beaver Fire summary lists divisions on the west side of the fire where under the influence of strong, gusy downdraft winds. This coupled with record dry fuels contirbuted to extreme fire behavior. The incident also experienced a burnover incident. Three firefighters were trapped as a rapid wind shift, caused by outflow winds from a thunderstorm east of the Beaver Fire over took them. All three deployed their fire shelters. They were evaluated on scene, transported to Yreka, examined and released. No serious injuries have been reported at this time.

Locally, the Tahoe National Forest reports “a few more small lightning-caused fires on the forest, all of which are either out or controlled as of today. Thunderstorm activity is expected to dissipate today, with dryer weather over the next few days.”

The TNF received 111 strikes in the 24-hour period between 6:00 am yesterday and 6:00 am today. (Truckee RD-19; Sierraville RD-33; Yuba River RD-55; and American River RD-4)

August 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM As of the 24 hour period ending last night, the Plumas (PNF) had received 134 lightning strikes. The majority of strikes occurred on the central (Mt Hough Ranger District (RD)) and eastern (Beckwourth RD) portions of the Forest. The greatest concentration of strikes occurred from Blairsden north toward Thompson Peak and west to the Genesee Valley area. Four of the 5 very small fires reported were contained quickly yesterday. The fifth fire (1/3 acre) is in a rugged area near Wheeler Peak; firefighters hiked in today to cut a fire-line around it. A helicopter with a water bucket managed the fire late yesterday afternoon and early evening. More thunderstorms and precipitation, including hail, are forecast for today.

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