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Synoptic Conditions Contributing to Lightning Events in Coastal California


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Wildfires present an increased risk to the environment and population of California. In coastal regions of California, the presence of lightning is relatively uncommon compared to California as a whole. While lightning-triggered fires are less common than those started by other means, there is the potential to increase predictability of fires started by lightning by analyzing weather patterns. This study found that three primary synoptic patterns occur when cloud-to-ground lightning is observed in coastal California. Additionally, the study found atmospheric characteristics present during lightning events that forecasters should pay attention to in order to improve lightning forecasts. The study also found that lightning is triggered by primarily elevated convection during the summer months and surface-based convection during theremaining months of the year. By determining the general weather patterns that correspond with lightning strikes in coastal regions and informing forecasters of practical techniques to increase accuracy for lightning forecasts, first responders can be more aware of the potential risks of lightning-triggered fires during the dry months. This can lead to better fire response and an increase in preventative measures for both the environment and the California population.



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