Dry lightning puts firefighters on alert
How to avoid wildfires in dry conditions:
• Avoid mowing or weed-eating after 10 a.m. and during dry or windy conditions.
• Do not to use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
• Do not pull vehicles over in dry grass.
• Be sure to fully extinguish campfires.
For more information, visit readyforwildfire.org or fire.ca.gov
A forecast for dry lightning and strong winds across Northern California has firefighters on alert and urging residents to take extra precautions.
CalFire has increased staffing as a low pressure system blows in from the coast, bringing with it subtropical moisture and isolated thunderstorms — most of which have little to no rain, the agency announced Wednesday. Lightning has already begun and is likely to continue into today, and dry lightning has already sparked more than a dozen fires over the Sierra and northeastern California this year.
Gearing up for this new wave of lightning, CalFire staffed its reserve fire engines, placed additional inmate fire crews on 24-hour availability and is holding all personnel on duty.
"This year, we have seen a significant increase in lightning-sparked fires in California," said Chief Ken Pimlott, state CalFire director. "With the already tinder-dry conditions, this lightning-storm system has elevated the fire danger even higher for this week."
The National Weather Service confirmed scattered showers and thunderstorms that began Wednesday night would likely not taper off until this afternoon. Despite the chance for wet weather, temperatures were still slated to reach the low 90s, with overnight lows in the low- to mid-60s, said forecaster Karl Swanberg.
"It looks dry for Friday, Saturday, through at least Sunday," he said. "Mostly clear skies, high temperatures, low to mid-90s."
But the burst of lightning did create a red flag warning, Swanberg said.
"The threat is there if some dry lightning strikes. The forests, the grasslands, they are all very dry and depending on how much we get, there is definitely a potential for additional fire starts," Swanberg said.
Such storms happen about two or three times a summer, he said.
"We get into that August-September period, we have potential of moisture moving up from Baja California and then we have very dry conditions from a summer without rain," Swanberg said. "The ingredients are together for a high fire danger."