Thunderstorms bring lightning, rain to San Diego County - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Thunderstorms bring lightning, rain to San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A series of thunderstorms moved through San Diego County Thursday, bringing an unusually large amount of lightning and some rain, sparking fires and knocking out electrical power.

The combination of lightning strikes and only light precipitation prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for potential wildfires until 3 p.m.

However, as moisture increased throughout the day, the NWS also issued an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory for the county, effective until 4:30 p.m.

"We have an upper-level low pressure system just off the coast, and it's pulling in the stormy weather from the tropics," said NWS meteorologist Tina Stall.

Thunderstorms were expected to last into the night, Stall said.

Fire agencies around the county reported responding to a number of fires touched off by lightning strikes, but none of the blazes were significant.

Mike Mohler of Cal Fire said a lightning bolt struck a house at 1138 Jaybird Lane in Ramona just after noon and sparked a small fire on the roof.

Three brush fires sparked by lightning turned out to be insignificant, Mohler said.

A dispatcher for Northcomm Fire, which dispatches for most of the fire departments in the North County, said two very small brush fires in Bonsall might have been caused by lightning.

Power outages were reported countywide.

About 10,000 San Diego Gas & Electric customers were without electricity around 1 p.m., but that figure was halved in just 15 minutes, showing how the numbers fluctuated throughout the day, said spokeswoman April Bolduc.

The largest outage was in Santa Ysabel, where 2,600 customers lost power for four minutes beginning at 9:21 a.m., Bolduc said.

She said other outages of more than 1,000 customers occurred in Paradise Hills and Blossom Valley.

"Especially when we see the first rains of the season, a buildup of dust and dirt on the (overhead) lines can cause an outage," Bolduc said.

By 2:30 p.m., a total of 24,200 SDG&E customers had lost power at some point during the day, she said.

The proximity of lightning within five minutes caused aircraft refueling crews at Lindbergh Field to occasionally suspend operations, causing some short delays for departures, said Steve Schultz of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Stall said there could be more thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday, with drier weather moving in Sunday.

According to NWS data, the most rain in the county, 0.79 inch, fell in Flinn Springs, just east of El Cajon. Mount Woodson saw 0.70 inch. Most areas around the county received less than 0.10 inch.

The heavier-than-expected rain eased fire worries, but Mohler said crews will keep watch for "sleeper fires," in which a lightning strike one day can be responsible for a fire the following day.

"It just smolders and the storm clears out and tomorrow it goes," Mohler said. "It can smolder for hours, and when the sun comes up it just takes off. It's a possibility."

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