Thunderstorm brings hundreds of lighting strikes

Firefighters checking on about 35 possible new wildfires


Lighting from thunderstorms around Central Oregon this afternoon and this evening may have brought new wildfires.

Crews were responding to about 35 reports of new fires across the region, said Patrick Lair, spokesman for the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

Several of those fires were put out and some were just single trees on fire. A majority of the lightning strikes were in the Deschutes National Forest, with a concentration of hits west of Lava Butte, Lair said.

Reports came in from lookouts and the public.

Estimates of the number of lightning strikes in the region at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday ranged from 450 from the National Weather Service to more than 700, according to software used by the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

The difference in the numbers might be attributable to whether the strikes being counted were cloud to ground, or whether the count also included in-cloud strikes, explained Mike Vescio, a meteorologist with the weather service in Pendleton.

“South and west of Bend were the areas that got most of the lightning,” said Douglas Weber, also a weather service meteorologist in Pendleton.

The thunderstorms continued Tuesday evening but the lightning had diminished.