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Thunderstruck: Recent lightning storms in the Okanagan ‘significant’ and ‘notable’

Chance of thunderstorms remain in the forecast through Saturday

The night of Aug. 11 in the Okanagan was the year’s most stunning lightning show to date.

Out of the 14,000 strikes in B.C. Thursday, 730 of them struck the Kelowna area, according to Environment Canada, marking a single-day high for 2022.

And with severe thunderstorm alerts still in effect across the province, experts say the action in the sky may not be a thing of the past quite yet.

“Suddenly, we’ve had a couple of big days for lightning but this one on Thursday was both significant and notable,” said Bobby Sekhon, a meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“For Friday in the Okanagan, we’re looking at the possibility for scattered thunderstorms that could produce large hail, heavy downpour and strong winds.”

Sekhon added that most of the lightning strikes in B.C. on Thursday appeared from the Cariboo Mountains down to the U.S. border.

The 730 strikes in Kelowna were seen within a 50-kilometre radius. Data from other Okanagan cities haven’t been made available.

“These statistics are daily flashes, so they take into account cloud-to-ground-lightning and also strikes within the clouds, too,” Sekhon explained. “The 730 strikes in Kelowna happened from 10 p.m. on Wednesday to 10 p.m. on Thursday.”

This summer’s other notable lightning event came at the end of July, shortly after a heat wave in which several Okanagan communities reached temperatures between 38 C to 40 C.

Thursday night’s lightning show, however, stood toe-to-toe with last month’s action. On July 30 and Aug. 1, a total of 25,000 strikes combined were seen province-wide. On Aug. 11 alone, there were 14,000.

“Probably even for Saturday, there may be a risk for more of it,” Sekhon stated. “There’s been some tropical moisture pushed into B.C. from the south and that’s going to be on the move for tomorrow, bringing the risk of thunderstorms.”

Stability in the sky is expected to return by Sunday, with higher-than-average summertime temperatures currently in next week’s Okanagan forecast.

As the lightning rolled through parts of the province on Thursday, a total of 45 new wildfires were sparked.

READ MORE: 45 new wildfires spark after lightning hits dry areas of B.C.