More than 700 lightning strikes hit during storm Thursday

Thunder, lightning rip through Bay Area Thursday night

The storm that struck Thursday night triggered more than 700 lightning strikes around the Bay Area, set new records for rainfall and left thousands without power, officials said Friday.

The National Weather Service recorded 750 lightning strikes overnight in the area extending from the North Bay to Monterey County, an unusually high number for one storm, according to meteorologist Chris Stumpf. That total includes strikes that occurred off the coast.

Several areas saw new records set for rainfall on Thursday, breaking previous records set in 2003, Stumpf said. Downtown San Francisco received 1.24 inches of rain on Thursday, breaking the previous record for April 12 of 0.92 inches. Downtown Oakland got 1.26 inches, well above the previous record of 0.59 inches. Oakland International Airport got 1.2 inches, shattering the previous record of 0.77 inches. The storm helped increase rainfall for what has generally been a dry year, but totals still remain well below average for this time of year, Stumpf said.

"I know a lot of places are sitting around 60 percent of normal for this time of year, but we're still nowhere near where we were last year," Stumpf said. "Last year we were either at or above 100 percent for many places."

Thursday's storm caused flight delays, mudslides, minor flooding and power outages around the Bay Area, but much of that is starting to clear up today. At San Francisco International Airport, 60 flights were canceled on Thursday, including one London-bound United Airlines flight that turned around after it was struck by lightning. Today there are about half a dozen flights departing about an hour behind schedule as the airport catches up from Thursday night, but most flights are on time, airport duty manager Nancy Parker said.

"It's normal operations for a rainy day," Parker said. "Actually, better than normal." The storm also caused power outages throughout the Bay Area, but the majority of those have been resolved, according to PG&E.

After a week of rain, the weekend is expected to be clear and breezy, with temperatures increasing into the next week, Stumpf said.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by wondering
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Wonder how the NWS actually records a lightening strike? Is this an estimate, or do they have some technique that produces accurate numbers of strikes?

Like this comment
Posted by global warming
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Global warming is really changing our weather patterns. No Bay Area rain during the winter, but huge storms in spring? Is this going to be the norm now? I miss Thanksgiving skiing.

Like this comment
Posted by Lightning and Thunder
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Great shot of lightening hitting the Bay Bridge over a 20 sec span - Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Lightning and Thunder,

Beautiful shot!

No doubt, it is proof of global warming! Well, maybe not, but it is still sublime.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

One can spend a lifetime studying lightning. People would be surprised at the amount of lightning research done at Stanford and nearby corporate campuses. Yes, the weather services have accurate techniques for recording every discharge, basically like listening for the static you hear on AM radio. The exact locations can be triangulated. Such instruments are distributed around the country and around the world, sensing up to many thousand flashes per second. May be predictive of hurricane severity, tornado probability, or even large earthquakes.

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Lightning, indeed weather itself, has no relationship to earthquakes. If it did, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Chicago and the 100s of U.S. cities who have terrible lightning for a good part of each year would be quaking like mad. Earthquakes are related to geologic phenomena.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

The mechanism is a current research topic, especially in Japan and China. Seismic strains do set up electric fields, which under favorable meteorological conditions may produce excess cloud to ground discharges. That's how strain meters and new bathroom scales work, measuring the electric field of a crystal under load. At Stanford they study how very low frequency (VLF) radio waves may change character before an earthquake, and papers were written about it after the 1989 event. Science can be really quite interesting. They should teach more of it in high school.

Like this comment
Posted by [azlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

always funny to read the comments from internet scientists on global warming(?) Good laugh when meterologist Stumpf claimed rain totals this year were less than last year, guess thats why they tally yearly totals as "average rainfall totals" Guess he missed that day at meterologist school.

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm

> Lightning, indeed weather itself, has no relationship to earthquakes

There is some evidence that RF electrical energy is released during, or possibly before, an earthquake. If true, then this RF energy could be detected, and triangulated, just as with the lightening strikes.

The issue on the table is not what causes lightening, but how is it detected remotely.

I looked up the detection mechanism, which is called LDAR (Lightning Detection and Ranging).

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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