Dry lightning threat triggers red flag warnings

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires) – With wildfires burning across Northern California, fire officials were casting a wary eye toward the skies Thursday as an approaching low pressure system was carrying with it the threat of dry lightning and gusty winds.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the entire Bay Area beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday and running through 11 a.m. Friday.

Weather service forecasters said they expected the associated lightning strikes to be the most frequent in Monterey and San Benito counties initially and then spread northward.

A Fire Weather Watch was issued for the Sierra around Lake Tahoe as the thunderstorms would be moving into the region Thursday evening.

KTVU Meteorologist Mark Tamayo said the storms could also produce some light showers late Thursday afternoon and evening.

But overall the thunderstorms will produce little or no rain and consequently increase the risk of wildfires.

Forecasters also said Isolated downbursts of wind may make fighting existing fires more difficult.

The lightning will also pose risks to campers, hikers and people at outdoor sporting events, weather service officials said.