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Multiple lightning strikes in Santa Cruz Mountains; Cal Fire crews on alert

First Alert Weather Day forecast for Wednesday morning
First Alert Weather Day forecast for Wednesday morning 01:45

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cal Fire teams were in the Santa Cruz Mountains late Wednesday morning, checking for possible brush fires after numerous lightning strikes were recorded in the tinder-dry timberland.

The agency took to social media to assure local residents that these were merely precautionary visits.

"With multiple lightning strikes in the area, CAL FIRE CZU has enacted it's Lightning Plan. Though there are NO CONFIRMED FIRES from any lightning strikes at this time, we send an engine to the location of each strike to put eyes on the area and make sure there is no fire."

Quick bursts of rain were reported Wednesday morning from San Francisco to Oakland to Monterey.

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for regions east of the Bay Area including the Tahoe, El Dorado, Trinity, Lassen and Shasta national forests.

"Lightning can create new fire starts and may combine with strong outflow winds to cause a fire to rapidly grow in size and intensity," the weather service warned.

KPIX 5 First Alert Weather: Current Conditions, Forecasts, Alerts For Your Area

In the Bay Area, the plume of humid, monsoonal moisture arrived on 2nd anniversary of the devastating August Complex Fire which claimed lives and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in the Santa Cruz Mountains and elsewhere.

"Dry lightning is something we can't prevent so we are reacting to what's given to us," Contra Costa County Assistant Fire Chief Tracie Dutter told KPIX.

Radar on Wednesday morning showed bands of thundershowers rolling through Monterey County into the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"Any storms that develop would be capable of creating dry lightning as the lower levels above the marine inversion remain dry,"  the weather service said. "The potential for any convection will spread from the Central Coast this morning into the Bay Area through the remainder of the day before exiting the region by late evening. Outside of the concern for lightning, gusty and erratic winds are possible in and near any thunderstorms that do develop."

While it won't be as hot as on Tuesday, when Livermore's high temperature reached 107, breaking a record of 105 set in 1951, it will still be plenty warm. 

"Temperatures will remain above seasonal averages across the interior while cooler conditions persist near the coast," the weather service said of Wednesday. "Temperatures return to near normal values by the upcoming weekend."  

However, soaring temperatures elsewhere in the state has forced the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, to call for voluntary electricity conservation from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., due to expectation of increased use of air conditioning and tightening power supplies.

Late afternoon through early evening is the period when the grid is most stressed due to high demand while solar energy production is decreasing.

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