Woman dies from lightning as more than 50K strikes hit California

NO LATER THAN June 22, 9 p.m. Chris Vagasky, a Vaisala meteorologist who maps lightning around the world, said on Twitter Wednesday evening, a total of 54,329 lightning strikes were detected across California for the UTC day of June 22.

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

Vagasky told SFGATE, “Amazingly, this lightning in the last 24 hours represents nearly 9% of all lightning detected in California in 2020 and 2021 combined.”

June 22, 11:50 a.m. A surge of monsoon humidity that moved through Southern California, the Central Valley and the southern Sierra Nevadas on Wednesday morning triggered thunderstorms that threw tens of thousands of lightning strikes and caused one death and one injured. Meteorologists said the weather event is unusual for June in California.

Chris Vagasky, meteorologist with Vaisala, which maps lightning around the world, said on Twitter, the North American Lightning Detection Network detected 25,000 strikes between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

Vagasky said that number puts the event in the top 2% of daily lightning totals in California.

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

“This is an abnormal event for June,” Vagasky said. “California’s most active time for lightning is usually July through September, once the monsoon has truly established itself.”

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

“There have been a number of very small fires but it’s difficult to confirm if they were started by lightning,” said Ryan Kittell, forecaster with the Los Angeles Weather Services office. “There was a small fire in Glendale. Everything was really small. Nothing got very big. Even the one in Ventura stayed small.”

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


It is the first death from lightning in California in 2022 and the third in the past three years, the Lightning Safety Council said.

The town of Pico Rivera called residents to cancel all outdoor activities due to inclement 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, the police department captain said. Ridgecrest Aaron Tucker.

“When officers arrived they located one person suffering from a lightning strike and one person was performing CPR,” Tucker said. “The victim regained consciousness. He was then taken to hospital.”

Tucker said the dog and baby were unharmed.

Thunderstorms blanketed a wide swath of California as moisture west of the Channel Islands drifted inland.

“This creates a southerly flow from the Pacific into southern California, bringing enough moisture and instability to the region for thunderstorm development, when the air begins to interact with the California terrain,” said said Vagasky. “As this system moves over California and into Nevada over the next two days, the moisture supply will disappear, as will the chance of storms.”

Monsoon moisture is expected to reach the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday afternoon, but the system will likely lose much of its strength and carry less moisture as it moves east-west from the Central Valley toward the coast. While thunderstorms in southern California have produced rain showers, thunderstorm activity is expected to produce less rain in the north.

“I would say for the most part we’re looking at high-base scattered showers with potentially one or two isolated thunderstorms,” ​​said Drew Peterson, forecaster with the Bay Area Weather Services office. “The most likely areas for this are roughly from Hollister north to about Benicia, including all of Santa Clara County, Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Solano County and the Napa County, with the highest possibility on the east side of those counties.”

Data produced by the North American Lightning Detection Network is continuously monitored and validated against rocket-triggered lightning, tall tower lightning, and other lightning references.

“The network detects over 95% of cloud-to-ground lightning with an accuracy of 100 meters,” Vagasky told SFGATE for a previous story.

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