2,500 lightning strikes in Washington overnight

2,500 lightning strikes in Washington overnight

Credit: Mitchell Greenblatt

Lightning over Bellevue, Wash., July 17, 2013.

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by Associated Press and KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 6:19 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 3:02 PM

SEATTLE - Overnight thunderstorms that rolled through Washington sent down about 2,500 lightning strikes and started a few wildfires.
  
Meteorologist Josh Smith with the National Weather Service office in Seattle says the storms Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the Northwest generated a total of about 8,000 lightning strikes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with most in Idaho.
  
The Washington Department of Natural Resources says lightning started about 10 wildfires in the northeast corner of the state, between Omak and Colville.

KING 5 Doppler radar recorded the lightning strikes in Washington, Northern Idaho and southern Canada.

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A similar lightning storm last September started dozens of fires in Chelan and Douglas counties that were known as the Wenatchee Complex.

Heavy rain and 1-inch hail hit wheat country north of Coulee City in Douglas County early Wednesday from one thunderstorm, said Ron Miller, another meteorologist in the Spokane weather service office. He heard from a wheat farmer on the Waterville Plateau who was checking his crop for damage.

Forecasters had been concerned about the possibility of flash flooding in parts of Eastern Washington, but the storms moved through too fast to cause flooding, Miller said.

The storms skipped some areas.  There was no thunder or rain in Spokane, he said.

A red flag warning for high wildfire danger continued into Wednesday in most of Eastern Washington. Dry weather with highs in the 90s is forecast through the weekend. Forecasters said grass, brush and light timber in some places are dry enough to burn.

There were several hundred lightning strikes overnight in Western Washington but little rain.

The thunderstorms were relatively high and dry, above 10,000 feet.

Only a trace of rain was recorded at Sea-Tac Airport, so that technically extends the dry streak to 20 days. The last measurable rain at the airport was on June 27. A trace of rain also was recorded at Boeing Field and Olympia. The weather service office on Lake Washington in Seattle recorded .03 of an inch, and Everett also measured .03, Mercer said.

Forecasters said dry, stable weather is returning. Above-normal temperatures in the 80s are forecast for Western Washington into next week.

The Sept. 8 lightning storm was blamed for starting more than 100 fires in the Wenatchee Complex. Many were small, but fires near Cashmere, Entiat and Wenatchee burned hundreds of acres, destroyed three homes and forced dozens of residents to evacuate.

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