Dry lightning hits on the increase in California

Here’s the record of 66,000 hits one day in June

Lightning strikes are rare in Northern and Central California — so infrequent as to be overlooked by science.

But the subject has been of urgent interest since August 2020, when a massive complex of thunderstorms thrashed its way across the state, dropping not rain but thousands of bolts of “dry lightning”: cloud-to-ground strikes without accompanying rainfall exceeding one-tenth of an inch (2.5 millimeters). The effects were predictable, immediate and immense: wildfires, 650 in total, burning upward of 2 million acres…

“Our team knew dry lightning happens in California during the summer,” said the paper’s author, Dmitri Kalashnikov of Washington State University at Vancouver. “But we didn’t know that it would be almost half (46 percent) of all lightning strikes in 34 years that were dry…”

“The higher elevations, like the Sierra Nevada, they get most of their dry lightning strikes in July and August, sort of during the monsoon season, and then by September and October, their dry lightning mostly goes away,” Kalashnikov said. “Whereas, in contrast in the lower elevations … it’s kind of an ongoing dry lightning season. So, whether you’re in June or July or August or September, you get about the same amount of dry lightning strikes as the other months…”

And this is just the beginning of Professor Kalashnikov’s study. I imagine something similar results in similar environments around the country, around the world. Just raises my curiosity bump even more.

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