Fire crews in Northern California remained on high alert Tuesday in anticipation of more lightning strikes, but it appears the Bay Area may escape the brunt of it, a National Weather Service forecaster said.
A red flag warning in effect since midnight Monday was extended to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, but most of the lightning activity was expected to be over the ocean and further north, forecaster Steve Anderson said.
On Monday, a total of 11,000 lightning strikes were recorded, with 6,000 of those hitting the ground, he said.
More important, Anderson said, about 90 percent of the strikes were over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Half Moon Bay.
"I'd say we probably dodged a bullet," Anderson said. "If those lightning strikes over the ocean are hitting dry land, then we'd probably be talking about fires this morning instead of talking about lightning."
Fire dispatchers in Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties said their crews were not summoned for any lightning-related fires on Monday.
In the East Bay, a lightning strike was recorded on Mt. Diablo, and another in Danville, but no fires were reported.
Most of the fire activity from lightning was centered in Shasta and Lassen counties, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. In those counties, Cal Fire was assisting local crews with more than 100 small fires that were created by lightning, he said.
"What's important to remember is that a strike can smolder for several days," Berlant said. "So we will continue to be on high alert through the red flag warning and afterward."
Ten major wildfires were still burning on Tuesday in California, Berlant said, and the agency has bolstered its crews to prepare for the days ahead. More than 5,000 firefighters are being used, he said.
"We increased our staffing, and we brought out our reserves to make sure we can respond as quickly as possible," he said. "We are also using the California National Guard to assist our crews."
Anderson said the forecast for Tuesday remains similar to that of Monday, with thunderstorms expected to produce more lightning, and a warm layer expected to absorb any rain before it hits the ground, Anderson said. He said much of the lightning may again be over the ocean.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Berlant said.
Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.