Lightning is very rare here. For half of the year between spring and autumn, rain is also very rare. Summers are long and dry. Weirdly though, if a storm passed through between spring and autumn, it usually involves lightning, and is usually within only a few days of the Feast of the Assumption, on August 15. This time, it arrived just about an hour after midnight on August 16.

It was warm that night, so the windows were open at home. There was a gust of wind in the cottonwoods that sounded like the Santa Ana Winds of the Los Angeles region, and the electricity went out, likely because the same gust knocked a tree onto cables elsewhere. The lighting might have started earlier, but became visible without electrical lights outside. I heard no thunder.

Lightning worries us while the weather is so warm and dry. It came without rain. Previously, humidity had been minimal. There was a faint aroma of smoke in the morning, but nothing was mentioned about fires during the day. That was Sunday. Monday was warmer and less humid, and smelled notably smokier as I left for the Santa Clara Valley, where I have been since then.

Fires that were started by the lightning in Bonny Doon was finally mentioned in the news on Tuesday, but did not seem to be a major concern. By the next morning, Boulder Creek was being evacuated! Brookdale and Ben Lomond were evacuated later on Wednesday. By this morning, Felton and everyone at work were being evacuated! Scott’s Valley and environs could be next!

It all happened so fast and I am miles away. Even if I were not miles away, I would need to go miles away with everyone else who was evacuated. I was told that ash and burned leaves were falling from the sky around my home this morning. I have never seen so much smoke over the Santa Cruz Mountains, or filling the sky of the Santa Clara Valley. I hope to never see it again.

This reblogged post is from my other blog at ‘Felton League’.

via CZU Lightning Complex Fires

29 thoughts on “CZU Lightning Complex Fires

  1. How tragic to see that beautiful stretch taken down by fire, as natural an event as it is! Please stay far away, wherever you are, and stay safe. I am hearing that UCSC has been evacuated — and other safe spots as well — and that there is smoky haze all the way to Santa Barbara. We, too have smoky haze from the Southern California fires — hopefully the heat and the smoke will dissipate soon, and you will be able to return to a more normal life. My thoughts remain with you and all those who have had to leave their homes and not know what they will find when they return.

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    1. The forests will recover. It is natural for it. It is not so easy for those of us who live here though. I happened to leave before the evacuations, and was told about it later. I am concerned about the situation at work because I was not there when everyone left. Well, I try to not worry too much.

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  2. Out my way we see the unimaginable photos of the fires–perhaps in the way that others see the photos of our blizzards (although generally there is warning of those) and we can’t imagine it. Just be safe.


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  3. Oddly, it’s evacuation that’s on my mind this morning, as the National Weather Service has a hurricane landing on our doorstep next Tuesday/Wednesday. Whether to go or stay is a complicated decision. At least tropical systems give a little warning. I’d find fire more frightening. I remember the feeling of not knowing what’s happening, and the anxiety of wondering what things will be like ‘afterward.’ Wishing you and all your coworkers and friends the best.

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    1. Thank you. We got warning too, and were able to get out of the way. I had left earlier, so was not there when it happened. I am confident that most of us will return to find no damage. We just needed to leave for safety.

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  4. Thanks for the update, Tony. I had seen the news and have been wondering how you had been going on. It’s not good news though. I’m glad you are safe and hope the fire will quickly be brought under control and that your home and workplace and colleagues will be safe too. It is hard to handle when you are away from home and trouble happens.

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  5. I hope that everything turns out okay for you. Being in the flat valley inland, we are usually spared the brunt of all of this. I can only remember a few times seeing lightning with no rain, but that’s maybe only once or twice in my lifetime. Right now we are getting everyone’s smoke, in fact our air is worse than some areas close to the fires just because of the direction the wind is blowing. The mountains protect us from the storms, but sadly trap that smoke in and give it no where to go. It literally looks like it’s foggy outside right now.

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    1. This sort of weather is very rare. It happened in about 1990, and started many small fires in the East Hills on the far side of San Jose. The smoke here is worse than I can ever remember it being, although it is not as bad as it was two days ago.

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  6. Stay safe, Tony. A Pennsylvania born friend lives in Guerneysville posted that he evacuated, but sneaked back to his cabin yesterday. Imagine not a good idea. Crazy times, this 2020.

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    1. Sneaking back is dangerous in regions where access is limited. In our region, there are only a few roads by which to leave, and some are already obstructed by the fire.


      1. They are worse now because the region does not burn as regularly as it naturally did prior to so many people inhabiting it. Also, timber was harvested about a century ago, which allowed more combustible species to get established. It will take a few centuries before the redwoods crowd out the more combustible species. I do not know when we will be able to return, but it will likely be before I am able to leave my commitments here. It could be a long time before those within the fire zone are able to return. I do not know if there is any containment of the fire. Information is so scarce. What I read a few hours ago said that there was no containment at the time.

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