Thunderstorms and a Record-Shattering Heat Wave Exacerbate California Wildfires

Newsy Studio

It’s safe to say that California is not having an easy 2020. The state was one of the first to experience several spikes in COVID-19 cases after reopening businesses this summer, and now they’re experiencing a slew of wildfires after enduring some freak thunderstorms and heatwaves.

Thanks to the scorching temperatures with some areas reaching a whopping 130 degrees, as well as high winds from the lightening in the storm, wildfires have recently broken out all throughout the state. The lightning strikes caused fires in remote areas of Northern California as well as right outside Los Angeles.

All of this combined caused the state to experience a rare fire tornado (a combination of heavy winds, extreme heat and rough terrain) in Lassen County, just north of Lake Tahoe. That caused Reno’s National Weather Service to issue a fire tornado warning for the first time ever.

Even meteorologists, who’ve seemingly seen it all, were completely perplexed by what was going on with the weather.

“It’s so unusual, it’s a little difficult to wrap our heads around. Of course, the towering clouds created by fires, we’ve all seen that. But the tornadic feature or multiple fire whirls, that’s just incredible,” said Dawn Johnson, a meteorologist at the Reno station. “In this case, there’s a massive wildfire burning in the same location, so the logistics are a lot more complicated.”

The Lake Fire in Angeles National Forest had burned nearly 28 square miles but was 12 percent contained just a day later. The smaller fire near Los Angeles was 3 percent contained and the fire tornado that occurred in Lassen County was just 5 percent contained.

California just can’t catch a break. To hear more on the wildfires in California, check out the video below.

We’re thinking of everyone in the state. Do you live in California or know anyone who is experiencing these wildfires? What have you been doing to stay safe?