By Doug Esser Associated Press
SEATTLE — Hundreds of lightning strikes hit Washington overnight as thunderstorms rolled across the state, and authorities watched for smoke Wednesday to see if they sparked wildfires.
There were 400 to 500 lightning strikes recorded in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, said Ryan Fliehman, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Spokane.
“Some storms have quite a bit of rain, some not so much,” he said.
There were no immediate reports of wildfires from the dry lightning, but the Department of Natural Resources and Forest Service likely would send planes to look for smoke in isolated areas, Fliehman said.
A red flag warning for high wildfire danger continued Wednesday in most of Eastern Washington. Dry weather with highs in the 90s is forecast through the weekend. Forecasters said grass, brush and light timber in some places are dry enough to burn.
There were about 100 lightning strikes overnight in Western Washington but little rain, said Danny Mercer, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Seattle.
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, Mercer said. The last measurable rain at the airport was on June 27.
Only a trace of rain was 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.
The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning with gusty winds and hail overnight for parts of Grant and Lincoln counties in Eastern Washington. The sheriff’s offices said early Wednesday there were no immediate reports of damage.