Woman dies of lightning as more than 50,000 landslides hit California

Written by Javed Iqbal

NO LATER than June 22 at 21.00 Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist from the company Vaisala, which maps lightning strikes around the world, said on Twitter Wednesday night that a total of 54,329 lightning events were recorded in California for UTC Day on June 22nd.

“Mostly in a single day since September 8, 2017, when 56,059 were discovered,” Vagasky said. “This is the 6th highest daily total since 2015.”

June 22 at 11.50 A push of monsoon moisture moving into the south California, Central Valley and southern Sierra Nevada on Wednesday morning triggered thunderstorms that threw tens of thousands of lightning strikes and caused one death and one personal injury. Meteorologists said weather event is unusual for June in California.

Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist at the company Vaisalawhich maps lightning strikes around the world, said on Twitter, the North American Lightning Detection Network recorded 25,000 attacks between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Vagasky said this figure places the event in the top 2% of daily lightning strikes in California.

Of the total strikes, Vagasky told SFGATE that 9,427 were cloud to ground, while the others were in-cloud impulses and did not reach ground.

“This is an abnormal event for June,” Vagasky said. “California’s most active period of lightning is usually from July to September, when the monsoon has really established itself.”

The National Weather Service reported thunderstorms and lightning strikes over Southern California and the Southern Central Valley Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. More than an inch of rain fell over Los Angeles and Ventura County over the course of 12 hours, and there were reports of pea-sized hail. Firefighters replied to a fire likely started by lightning in Ventura County.

“There were a number of very small fires, but it’s hard to confirm if they were started by lightning,” said Ryan Kittell, a Los Angeles Weather Service forecaster. “There was a small fire in Glendale. Everything has been really small. There has not been anything that has become very large. Even the one in Ventura remained small.”

A woman and her dogs were reportedly hit and killed by lightning Wednesday morning in Pico Rivera, a town about 15 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, more media reported.

This marks the first lightning death in California in 2022 and the third in the last three years, the Lightning Safety Council said.

Byen Pico Rivera called on residents to cancel all outdoor activities due to the bad weather.

About 160 miles northeast of Pico Rivera, a man was struck by lightning in Ridgecrest around 7:30 a.m. while pushing a baby in a stroller and walking a dog, Capt said. Aaron Tucker of the Ridgecrest Police Department.

“When officers arrived, they found a person suffering from a lightning strike and a person provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” Tucker said. “The victim regained consciousness. He was later transported to a hospital.”

Tucker said the dog and baby were not injured.

The thunderstorms covered a large swath of California as moisture west of the Channel Islands drifted into the country.

“This creates southern flow from the Pacific Ocean to southern California, bringing sufficient moisture and instability into the region for the development of thunderstorms when air begins to interact with California’s terrain,” Vagasky said. “When that system moves across California and into Nevada within the next day or two, the moisture supply will disappear, and so will the chance of storms.”

The monsoon moisture is expected to reach the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday afternoon, but the system is likely to lose much of its strength and carry less moisture as it pushes east to west from the Central Valley toward the coast. While thunderstorms in southern California provided some rain showers, storm activity is expected to bring less rain in the north.

“I would say we’re mostly looking at scattered high-altitude showers with potentially an isolated thunderstorm or two,” said Drew Peterson, a forecaster at the Bay Area Weather Service Office. “The most likely areas for this are largely from Hollister north to around Benicia, including all of Santa Clara County, Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Solano County and Napa County, with the highest opportunity on the eastern side of these counties.”

Data produced by the North American Lightning Detection Network is monitored non-stop and validated against rocket-triggered lightning, lightning to tall towers and other lightning references.

“The network detects more than 95% of cloud-to-ground flashes with 100 meters accuracy,” Vagasky told SFGATE for a past story.

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Javed Iqbal

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