Thunderstorms fire up around Western Washington

SEATTLE -- Thunderstorms are like snow events in Western Washington: Rare enough that the few we do get are enough to get excited about. And these storms certainly qualify as "exciting."

An upper level low pressure area has settled into Western Washington, making for a very unstable air mass that will be triggering thunderstorms through the day.

The first line of thunderstorms went through the Everett/Whidbey Island in the early morning hours, bringing rumbles of thunder there as the morning commute got under way.

As that storm passed off to the west, a new line of thunderstorms formed over the Eastside foothills and began a march west into the Seattle-Bellevue area, bringing amazed plenty of gawkers from the populace not used to such lightning shows, and some headaches for emergency crews.

A lightning strike in Renton knocked a man across his living room then triggered a fire, said Erik Wallgren, Renton Deputy Fire Chief.

The man had to be taken to Valley Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and his home could be a total loss, Wallgren said.

At noon, Seattle City Light reported over 80 small outages -- mainly in the North Seattle area -- that affected around 380 customers. One witness reported that lightning struck a transformer in the Greenlake neighborhood.

The storm was also creating headaches for the animal kingdom, as reports on Twitter told of scared dogs and cats...and... others:

The thunder totally freaked out the chickens.They are clucking up a storm!

Jeanne Sauvage (@fourchickens) July 13, 2012The Seattle-area thunderstorm moved off to the northwest just after 11 a.m. but thunderstorms will remain in the forecast through the day and into Saturday as unstable air remains and storms form off the mountains and get carried west into the lowlands.

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Here is time lapse video of the storm last night from Hansville, courtesy of Greg Johnson:

Marble size hail was also seen in South Everett.

Get frequent updates on the storm by following @KOMONews and @ScottSKOMO on Twitter.