Updated 7:10 a.m.
Northern California avoided more devastating wildfires as a thunderstorm on early Monday morning appears to have spared the region of additional lightning strikes.
California could get another round of lightning storms extending until Tuesday, even as local health officials caution that unhealthy smoke from current fires could stay well into the week.
The National Weather Service is forecasting dry thunderstorms that they want could produce lightning and fires. NWS had issued a fire weather watch starting Sunday morning and extending until 11 a.m. Tuesday for much of Northern California and the Bay Area.
The Fire Weather Watch has been upgraded to a Red Flag Warning due to the potential for thunderstorms tomorrow and Monday with little to no rainfall. Storms may produce additional fire starts. Lightning and gusty, erratic winds around storms will be the main threat. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/kjSAQBuFnt— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) August 22, 2020
Northern California’s lightning strikes late Sunday night and early Monday were not as extreme as last week. Based on data from LightningMaps.org, there were just a handful of strikes in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, almost all of them east of Stockton and many at higher elevations near Lake Tahoe and Reno.
Meanwhile, current fires could keep air quality in the Sacramento region poor until at least Tuesday, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
While smoke levels are about half of what they were during the 2018 Camp Fire, levels are predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups (usually orange on air quality maps) Monday and Tuesday. It is likely that the highest pollution levels will occur during the afternoon, evening and early morning hours. Health officials recommend anyone who can stay indoors do so.
Cloth and surgical masks do not provide protection against smoke, but are still recommended if you have to go outside to protect against COVID-19. Here are some tips on what you can do if you must go outside.
The city of Sacramento is also transitioning two cooling centers to serve as clean air centers.
Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at 828 I St. and the Hagginwood Community Center at 3271 Marysville Blvd. will operate 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. They will remain open until the smoke diminishes and the air quality improves.
Anyone using the centers will be required to wear a mask or face covering. If an individual does not have a mask, one will be provided for them.
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