Why was there lightning in the San Francisco Bay Area? Here's what's causing the rare thunderstorms

Drew Tuma Image
Monday, August 17, 2020
What's causing thunderstorms in the Bay Area?
If you're wondering what's causing the dramatic lightning strikes and blistering hot temperatures in the Bay Area, you're not alone. Meteorologist Drew Tuma is here to explain.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Thousands of lightning strikes lit up the Bay Area skies for hours Sunday morning as rare thunderstorms rolled through.

The combination of excessive heat and moisture from a tropical storm 1,000 miles to our south set the stage for the dramatic light show.

VIDEO: Compilation of lightning during rare Bay Area thunderstorms

This best-of video shows lightning streaking across the skies around the Bay Area.

It is not uncommon to have intense heat this time of the year. High pressure is currently set up in the desert southwest, acting like a heat pump sending record breaking heat through much of California.

The wildcard in the forecast is Tropical Storm Fausto, 1,000 miles to our south off the coast of Mexico.

Moisture from the tropical storm is being funneled into Northern California thanks to the clockwise circulation around high pressure with the Bay Area in the direct path.

VIDEO: ABC7 tower cameras capture incredible lightning show across Bay Area

Mother Nature is putting on quite a display Sunday morning. ABC7's cameras around the Bay Area captured some amazing shots of the lightning show.

As the moisture interacts with our intense heat, instability occurs and thunderstorms develop.

Thanks to Fausto continually sending moisture into the Bay Area, storms were allowed to live for long periods of time causing lighting to strike for hours. This pattern does not look to change overnight into Monday morning so thunderstorms will remain in the forecast.

Watch the latest AccuWeather forecast and take a look at recent weather stories and videos.