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Dry Lightning Increases Fire Danger In San Diego

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning until 11 p.m. on Thursday for San Diego County. The warning is for dry lightning, likely to come with thunderstorms and gusty winds.


Thunder rumbled throughout San Diego County on September 30, 2010.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are happening now or will happen during the time frame of the warning.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Atkin said a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures create explosive fire growth potential for San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Atkin said despite the moisture, fire danger is still present with the thunderstorms.

"Dry lightning is for areas where we don't get significant rain," said Atkin. "It's not that they won't get any rain, if they don't get like a tenth of an inch of rain or so and they're still getting lightning it can kick off fires and gusty winds also with thunderstorms that can get those fires blowing and out of control very quickly."

In San Diego County, the warning area extends from the coasts to the deserts. Winds are expected between 35 and 45 miles an hour along with thunderstorms and lightning.

"We're actually getting enough rain in some areas that we'll likely be able to cancel the warning for most areas (of San Diego County) and limit it to the high deserts," said Atkin.

In the meantime, people throughout the county have been treated to lightning, thunder and wet highways.

Atkin said San Diego gets a weather pattern that brings thunderstorms and dry lightning a couple of times a year.

He said a weak upper-low pressure system off the coast will continue to bring a chance of rain showers and thundershowers through Saturday.

The rain may have been the reason a tanker truck jackknifed and plowed into a guardrail Thursday morning on the Interstate 805 in Chula Vista.

California Highway Patrol Officer Jesse Udovich said it appeared the truck slid out of control and crashed, spilling jet fuel on the northbound lanes near the E Street exit.

Rain fell in the area during the morning and could make the cleanup more extensive.

While the rain affected the commute, forecaster Atkin said the rain will do little to ease the fire danger.

"We're still very dry and that's why there's a big threat of fire starting from the lightning," said Atkin.

As to the weather for the Miramar Air Show, which starts Friday, Atkin said there is a chance some thunderstorms could affect the show.

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