The Bay Area may see some rare summer lightning again early next week. And while it doesn’t seem like such a big lightning event like the one that sparked several massive fires in the region last August, it doesn’t bode well that is happening again almost exactly a year later.
“A wave of monsoon moisture is increasingly likely to rotate over the region Sunday through Monday that could lead to high convection and potentially dry storms,” the local National Weather Service office reported Thursday on Twitter. “We will continue to monitor this potential scenario closely and share the updates as they become available.”
They quickly anticipate concerns that this was a replay in August 2020, and explain that this is a different set of circumstances. It’s a repeat in terms of “moist monsoon,” but apparently this situation won’t be as dangerous.
A wave of monsoon moisture is increasingly likely to rotate over the region Sunday through Monday that could lead to high convection and potentially dry thunderstorms.
We will continue to monitor this potential scenario closely and share the updates as they become available. pic.twitter.com/3gDcO1IwkU
– NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) July 15, 2021
The two events should not be compared in terms of expected impact.
Monsoonal ride as in the one forecast for this weekend is 2-3yr cyclical events, while the 2020 event was a unique set of circumstances.
– NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) July 16, 2021
NWS writes: “The August 2020 lightning epidemic that triggered many wildfires occurred due to the confluence of monsoon and tropical influences (remnants of tropical storm Fausto),” NWS writes. “No tropical influence is expected with this upcoming monsoon wave as Felicia is quite the SW.”
As that happens, temperatures will also be rising around the bay, including in San Francisco, where it is expected to warm up at least in the 70s by Monday.
The Bay Area remains in an “outstanding” drought condition, according to the U.S. Drought Surveillance, and conditions are prevalent in all parts of the state for devastating and inaccessible fires if lightning decides to hit randomly anywhere.
La August 2020 lightning storm, which hit the Bay Area on August 16 and 17 last year, caused wildfires in almost all Bay Area counties that would continue to burn for more than a month thereafter. The LNU Lightning Complex fire in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and several other counties, ended the fifth largest in state recorded history and also one of the most destructive. The SCU Lightning Complex in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties stands as the third largest in the state’s history.
Photo: Felix Mittermeier