A powerful thunderstorm swept over parts of Trinity County on Saturday, providing an impressive light show but also causing damage and some risky situations.
From the National Weather Service, Meteorologist William Iwasko said thunderstorms were expected to develop in Trinity County, “however they were much more widespread than we had initially expected.”
Generally, the thunderstorms hit hard in the higher elevations such as the Trinity Alps Wilderness. This time, he said, “they formed in those locations but they drifted off to the southwest at about 10 to 15 miles per hour.”
In Weaverville and the surrounding area, Iwasko said sensors showed about 100 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and 300 in-cloud lightning bolts.
The storm passed over Lewiston on its way to Weaverville around 3 p.m., as the Peddlers’ Faire was going on.
“It was like the Bridge Lighting when they have the grand finale of the fireworks,” said fair organizer Katie Quinn. “The skies just opened up.”
In Weaverville, a lightning bolt struck a tree at Lowden Park just after a Little League championship minors game was completed. The majors championship was postponed.
Those at the park said it all happened very quickly, with a few flashes seen in the distance. The league encouraged everyone to pack up to leave or take shelter. Then the storm was right on top of them.
The tree was struck and everyone ran for their vehicles.
Not far away, teacher Keith Sprague was camping out on the roof of Weaverville Elementary School for a cancer research fundraiser. He got off the roof until the storm passed.
High winds uprooted a large pine tree by Highway 299 between Martin and Ransom roads, which brought down utility lines and a power pole, closing the highway for a time. A utility pole was also broken on Lake Road in Junction City.
The Trinity Public Utilities District reported damages in Junction City, Weaverville and Douglas City, mostly from falling trees. There were lightning caused damages to a transformer at Ransom Road and a pole at the Industrial Park.
On East Weaver Creek Road, a tree fell on the rear of a residence and downed branches crushed the roof of a vehicle. No one was home at the time.
There were a number of lightning-caused fires in both state responsibility and federal lands. As of Tuesday, all were relatively small and several had been contained. However, in the days following a thunderstorm more fires can flare up. The Forest Service is continuing aerial flights to look for fires.
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest reported the Pickett fire at 0.34 of an acre near Pickett Peak south of Forest Glen. On Tuesday it was in patrol status.
Also on Tuesday, engines and crews were working their way to another small fire of the same size, the Devil fire, northwest of Horse Ridge.
The Rush Fire, a 0.1 of an acre vegetation fire southwest of Tannery Gulch and Highway 3, was contained.
In Cal Fire responsibility areas the following fires were contained: Quarter-acre fire off Reading Creek Road, single-tree fire in the Douglas City area, 50 by 50 foot fire in the Browns Mountain area at China Gulch.