“There were numerous thunderstorms across the central interior on June 8 which is when we had that severe thunderstorm watch in effect. There were over 2,500 lightning strikes within a 150 km radius of 100 Mile House,” says Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
At the time MacDonald said, “we have a pretty vigorous cold front that’s going to sweep across the province today, I’m sure you can already feel that muggy air that’s in place, and humidity is one of the key factors here for the development of thunderstorms.”
The thunderstorm indeed turned out quite severe.
“It was our most active lightening day of the season so far this year. There was also some strong winds recorded with that. There was a thunderstorm cell that passed close to the Williams Lake airport and they got a gust to 88 km an hour. In terms of rainfall, there was about 10 to 15 mm of rain from some thunderstorms that day but rainfall with these thunderstorms is highly variable. Some areas only saw a millimetre or two. “
For MacDonald, safety is a top priority, which is why this week is Lightning Safety Week. He warns people that anytime you hear thunder you’re within striking distance and that we had the first lighting victim of the season on Vancouver Island on May 30.
“You need to take lightening serious. Often times people wait a little bit too long for the rain to be over them to seek shelter… Really the only safe place during a lightning storm is indoors in a solid building or an all-metal vehicle.”
“We do lightning safety week every year before school gets out to try and advocate safe messaging and actions to kids in school before they get off for summer break.”
According to Fire Information Officer for the Cariboo Fire Centre, Natasha Broznitsky, no forest fires were started as a result of the storm.
“There have been no lightning caused fires due to that lightning… It could be due in part due to the fact that the lightening was in that area and it’s also been most prevalent in the eastern part of the fire centre and generally we’ve been seeing much lower fire danger ratings in the east.”
Broznitsky notes firefighters are still fighting a lightning cause fire near Pantage Lake, 40 km north-west of Quesnel.
“Today [June 12] we have 35 firefighters on site and at this point, they are patrolling the fire to look for any remaining hot spots. It is 100 per cent contained and it stayed at 168 hectares in size.”
Broznitsky asks people to be careful especially when going west, such as in the Alexis Creek and Tatla Lake areas, where fire danger ratings have started to go up.
“If we were to start getting some lightning-caused fires it would certainly be nice not to have to divert resources away from those to respond to human cause wild fires.”