2,500 lightning strikes hit Washington state overnight

SEATTLE - Bands of powerful overnight thunderstorms jolted thousands of people out of bed early Wednesday morning in Western Washington and sparked a few wildfires in Eastern Washington.

About 2,500 lightning strikes were recorded in the entire state during the storm. Although most were in Eastern Washington, about 120 to 130 struck west of the Cascades, including the Puget Sound region.

"This is a high number of lightning strikes for the state as a whole, not just typical," said Josh Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle. "We had some super-cells in Eastern Washington."

The entire storm system generated about 8,000 lightning strikes across the Northwest in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with most of them in Idaho, he said.

In Shoreline dozens of customers were in the dark for most of the night after Seattle City Light says a bolt of lightning knocked out the power when it hit a transformer or nearby. Most customers had their power restored by daybreak.

The first band of thunderstorms rumbled through the Puget Sound region around 11 p.m. Tuesday, then another more powerful group of storms lit up the sky around 2 a.m.

The flashes and rumbles of thunder came one right after another. Rain came along with some of the storms, but most of the area got very little precipitation because the thunderstorms were relatively high and dry, above 10,000 feet.

Only a trace of rain was recorded at Sea-Tac Airport, so that technically extends the dry streak to 20 days, said meteorologist Danny Mercer in Seattle. The last measurable rain at the airport was on June 27. The record is 51 days and second place was last year's 48-day dry streak.

Only a trace of rain was also recorded at Boeing Field and Olympia. The weather service office on Lake Washington in Seattle recorded .03 of an inch, and Everett also measured .03, Mercer said.

Forecasters said dry, stable weather is returning. Above-normal temperatures in the 80s are forecast for Western Washington into next week.

In Eastern Washington, lightning sparked about 10 wildfires in the northeast corner of state, between Omak and Colville, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

A red flag warning for high wildfire danger continued into Wednesday in most of Eastern Washington. Dry weather with highs in the 90s is forecast there through the weekend. Forecasters said grass, brush and light timber in some places are dry enough to burn.