Some rain, but some wildfire risk

Isolated thunderstorms are expected along the California coastline, including parts of the Bay Area, by Sunday afternoon, but they won’t provide much respite from ongoing drought conditions and an increasingly active wildfire season.

Meteorologists expect a weather system that will make its way from the central coast to the northern Gulf region by Monday evening with monsoon storms over the southwest states.

But according to the National Weather Service, the Bay Area and elsewhere along the coast will see cloudy skies and heavy cloud cover, and widespread heavy rain.

Thunderstorms, on the other hand, are prone to lightning in most affected areas, creating some risk of wildfires that cause lightning in the arid inland areas.

“In these types of situations, the risks may outweigh the benefits,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Lorber said in an interview.

Why wouldn’t a thunderstorm – emphasis on “hurricane” – produce more rain? Lorber says this is due to California’s summer climate, namely the hot, dry pocket of air beneath the atmosphere that evaporates most of the moisture before it falls to Earth.

Earlier this week summer storms flooded southwestern states such as Arizona and New Mexico and even Las Vegas. But when they reach California, thunderstorms are expected for a short period of time with heavy rainfall and the rest of the day with light drizzle.

This is unpleasant news for Californians concerned about continuing drought conditions. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives approved a comprehensive legislation package aimed at aiding parts of the state that are particularly affected by drought conditions and severe wildfires.

The risk of thunderstorms this weekend is “limited” and not “advanced” or “significant,” according to the National Weather Service’s measurement scale. But that still doesn’t rule out the possibility of wildfires.

“Even if it is raining, lightning can strike outside the main rainfall areas and pose some risk,” Lorber said, “especially in the interior of the Gulf region under such dry conditions.” with.”

Some of California’s historically largest wildfires were sparked by lightning strikes, including the August Complex in 2020, which burned more than 1 million acres in several northern California counties.

Lorber said that on the bright side, thunderstorms apart from some strong winds are not expected. Wind speeds are forecast to be around normal, and the Weather Service has not issued any advisories in the Bay Area.

Official guidance advises residents to stay indoors when thunder is heard outside when they are with electricity.

“Coastal fog always helps in the Gulf region,” he said. “We welcome any rainfall, but we do not welcome any risk of igniting wildfires.”

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