LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS1130) – Last night’s thunderstorm was a rare one for the Lower Mainland.

“All of the ingredients we look for were in place,” explains News1130 Meteorologist Russ Lacate. “We had the hot air near the ground, the markedly-cooler conditions at the elevation of the local peaks, and a sudden injection of moist air carried in aloft by that southerly jet stream.”

“It really was that sharp temperature contrast over the bottom few thousand metres of the atmosphere, plus the added cloud cover that triggered the intense lightning storm,” he adds.

Lacate tells us it was a once-in-a-decade type of event. “It was really the duration and intensity of that storm complex last night that made it stand out above any other we’ve seen around the South Coast for more than a decade.”

“The reason it went on for almost five hours is the jetstream was aimed squarely at us and it just kept re-supplying that unstable air mass all evening long,” he notes.

There were reports of continous lightning from the border to the mountains and from the coastline eastward to about Langley from 7 p.m. until almost midnight. There were numerous strikes per minute at the peak of the storm in the late evening.

Thunderstorms spark dozens of wildfires

Crews are spending the day fighting 32 new wildfires in the province, caused by lightning storms, like the one we had last night.

The lightning storms and the recent hot weather have also raised the fire danger rating.

“There has been changes, for sure,” says Fire Information Officer Erin Catherall. “With the lower amount of precipitation that we did receive, we have seen more areas of extreme [conditions] throughout BC.”

Catherall tells us crews are bracing themselves, as thundershowers are expected to hamper the BC Interior and the northern part of the province for the next couple of days. Still, there is no campfire ban in effect right now.

“If need be, one can be implemented,” she reminds us. “When you are having a campfire, make sure that your fire is no larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter.”

The new fires are not very big, but she is warning anyone heading to the backcountry to be extra careful. She recommends being equipped with things like water and a shovel are key.