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Extreme rare lightning related to climate change says San Diego scientist

Long periods of dry weather are followed by extreme storms with powerful lighting strikes.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. —

Powerful lighting strikes lit up the sky during Monday night’s storm that brought heavy rain, thunder, and hail across San Diego County. Thousands of San Diego Gas and Electric customers experienced power outages Tuesday morning

Forecasters with the National Weather Service reported approximately 4,000 lightning bolts in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties by 11 p.m. Monday.

“It was like a movie,” said Bryant Tuck from El Cajon. 

He grabbed his camera at the perfect moment to capture an incredible video of lightning from his backyard. 

“I kept seeing these flashes so I went outside and the lighting was striking right above us,” said Tuck. He said he has never seen lighting this extreme before in San Diego.  

According to extreme weather scientist Jose Martinez-Claros there is a scientific reason for this rare electrical storm that is related to climate change.  

“It was definitely much more intense than I expected,” said Martinez-Claros with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD.   

“I could see that the atmosphere was really unstable. The worse the drought, the worse the storm and we are seeing that very often with climate change,” said Martinez-Claros. 

He said the unbalance of the atmosphere after low amounts of moisture results in extreme weather events like San Diego saw Monday. 

“The U.S. west is getting dryer. The yearly distribution of precipitation has changed," said Martinez-Claros. "What climate change seems to bring in this case are prolonged periods of more extremes. Extreme drought and then ending more extreme storms.” 

WATCH RELATED: Storm leaves thousands throughout San Diego County without power