The National Weather Service says there were more than 7,000 strokes of lightning recorded in and near the Bay Area Monday evening — and forecasters say another round is possible Tuesday.
The lightning caused several fires, led to delays at San Francisco International Airport and turned the Giants-Dodgers game at AT&T Park into a late night-early morning event.
The spectacular light-and-sound show — most of the lightning was of the cloud-to-cloud variety — was the result of a system pumping moist air into the region from the south combining with hot weather that encouraged the formation of thunderstorms, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Bell.
“It was really impressive,” Bell said.
Lightning is common in California — think summer thunderstorms over the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges — but not in the state’s urban areas.
“It actually happens more frequently that people realize,” Bell said. “What made this event yesterday a little unusual was the fact that it was over metropolitan areas where people could really see it.”
Forecasters say the system that drove Monday’s thunderstorms is still in place and could lead to more storm conditions Tuesday afternoon and evening, especially in the southern parts of the region.
Monday’s storms were exciting for some and scary for others. In fact, there was one serious scare at SFO.
At around 9:30 p.m., airport staff responded to a report of a lightning strike near a United Airlines tug driver who was towing an empty aircraft, according to airport spokesman Doug Yakel.
Initial reports that indicated the worker was struck by lightning and injured were incorrect, Yakel said. He was evaluated and released by airport medics.
In Fremont, police and firefighters responded to a grass fire, more than one structure fire and reports of power outages, according to a tweet from the police department.
The lightning display came a day after a windstorm, that caught the National Weather Service by surprise, caused a series of outages, knocking out power for thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers in Santa Clara County.