Snap, crackle, pop! More lightning than past years

Does it seem like Washington and Oregon have had more lightning this year than past years? That’s because it’s true, according to the National Weather Service, and the year isn’t over yet.

Lightning strikes in Washington and Oregon the past 13 years from the months of June to September - chart by Terry Marsha, Bureau of Land Management
Lightning strikes in Washington and Oregon the past 13 years from the months of June to September – chart by Terry Marsha, Bureau of Land Management

Every year, lightning causes wildland fires across the country. Washington and Oregon were both pummeled with lightning over this past summer, igniting a number of new fires all across the region. Luckily, the recent lightning came with a great deal of rain, so it was more difficult for a wildfire to ignite.

Although a bolt of lightning is one of the more beautiful displays that Mother Nature provides, it also can be very costly. Nationwide, lightning causes an average of 24,600 fires each year and costs about $407 million in damages. (National Fire Protection Association)

As reported by the National Weather Service, Washington averages around 30 days of thunderstorms per year vs. the nation’s leader, Florida, which averages more than 100 days per year. A few weeks ago, the Northwest experienced approximately 110,000 lightning strikes in a 24-hour period.

This year on DNR-protected lands, 215 wildfires were caused by lightning. With the abundance of lightning, we don’t need to add a human-caused wildfire to the mix. Please be safe and alert when starting any fire or using spark-emitting equipment.

Learn lightning safety myths and facts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.