Dry lightning forecast sparks more fire fears | SierraSun.com

Dry lightning forecast sparks more fire fears

Sun staff report

Weather similar to what sparked hundreds of lightning fires last weekend is expected to return to the Sierra this weekend.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento has Issued a fire weather watch for dry lightning from Saturday morning through late Sunday night for the west slope of the Sierra Nevada.

Moist and unstable subtropical air from the desert Southwest Is forecast over the Sierra through the weekend. Isolated thunderstorms are expected with increasing storms Saturday and Sunday, according to the NWS. Initially the storms will have little if any rainfall associated with them Saturday, which will increase the threat of dry lightning.

The storms are expected to become wetter by Sunday, reducing the threat of dry lightning.

Friday’s lighting activity is a “2” on a scale of 1 to 5, said Ann Westling, spokesperson for Tahoe National Forest, and Saturday’s level is expected to be a “6,” or dry lightning activity.

“We’ve heightened our preparedness level,” Westling said. “On the east side in Truckee and Sierraville, we’ve got an extra water tender, dozer and borrowed an engine from another forest.”

On the west side of the summit, about 682 firefighters are already fighting active fires in Nevada and Sierra counties, and two national teams will assist if lightning sparks new infernos, Westling said.

“With all the fires in the state ” over 1,200, or 193,000 acres, resources are at a premium,” she said.