Thunderstorm surprises Bay Area Monday, may continue tonight


Josephine Rozzelle

Lightning bolts flash across the San Francisco sky Monday evening in the Richmond district. Thunderstorms hit the Bay Area after high winds and abnormally warm weather.

Abby Anderson

Mason Cooney, Assistant Features Editor

WEB EXCLUSIVE Seven thousand lightning bolts lit up the Bay Area sky Monday afternoon and continued into the evening.

“I was scared out of my mind,” junior Kiki Apple said. “I was worried that the power might go out — the lights were flickering in my room.”

The storm, which peaked after 6 p.m., frightened both students and pets. Senior Julia Alvarez said she felt the rumbling of thunder throughout her house.

“My dog was running all over the place,” Alvarez said. “Usually there’s not lightning in San Francisco, so it was cool and at the same time terrifying.”

The lightning struck the ground about 1,200 times between San Francisco and the Monterey Coast, according to SFGate. One strike hit close to the San Francisco International Airport, nearly hitting a worker towing an aircraft. A second bolt caused a 50 acre wildfire in San Mateo County that firefighters are still putting out.

Physics teacher Riaz Abdullah theorizes that the thunderstorm is due to the heat and humidity in the air.

“Humid air can hold more water,” Abdullah said. “I don’t know meteorology physics very well, but there’s got to be some kind of correlation between the hot, humid air and the recent thunderstorms.”

Abdullah added he believes the thunderstorms and hurricanes in the Southeast are due to climate change.

Some students, like junior Thomasina Akamine, went outside to watch the flashes of light. Akamine observed from her condo balcony, unaware that she was potentially putting herself in danger.

Go indoors as soon as possible when a thunderstorm occurs to reduce the risk of being hit by lightning, according to the National Weather Service. If there is not an available indoor space, separate large groups of people or, ideally, go inside a hard topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.

While Akamine may have increased her risk of being struck, students like Bella Shea stayed indoors without realizing that indoors are still not completely safe.

“I was freaked out, but not scared for my safety,” Shea said. “Should I have been scared?”

People indoors still run the risk of being struck, so it is safest to stay away from doors, windows, telephone lines and electrical appliances during any thunderstorm. Individuals should not take showers or baths during a thunderstorm because the metal pipes and the water in the plumbing are great conductors of electricity, according to the National Weather Service.

There is a 20 percent chance that the unusual weather will repeat tonight and Wednesday morning, according to Curbed SF.