Rare August Thunderstorm Rattles the Bay Area

Bay Area Thunderstorm, August 16, 2020
Photo credit Holly Quan/KCBS Radio
Updated at 9:00 a.m. 

A thunderstorm rattled the Bay Area early Sunday, causing downed trees and power lines, threatening property damage with winds of up to 70 mph and frequent lightning strikes that possibly caused several brush fires. 

The National Weather Service issued its first severe thunderstorm warning at 3:01 a.m. for Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which was supposed to last until 5:01 a.m. Forecasters have since then updated the warning, extending it to Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma Counties, set to end at 8 a.m. 

A special weather statement was extended until 9:30 a.m. Monday morning for the Bay Area and down to Monterey, with threats of frequent lightning, wildfires, gusty and erratic winds, downed trees and power lines, possible power outages and difficulty driving due to winds. 

Special Weather Statement extended until 9:30 AM PDT. Will continue to evaluate and update as needed.#CAwx pic.twitter.com/nHngkvzdbx

— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) August 16, 2020

There have been at least ten different blazes Sunday morning, with the largest of them in Livermore at about 50 acres.

Just before 5:30 a.m., Cal Fire reported the Arroyo fire in South Livermore. As of 6:50 a.m., the fire has burned 50 acres and is at 50% containment, with crews conducting an extensive mop up due to a Eucalyptus grove. 

#ArroyoFire (South Livermore) Firefighters are aggressively attacking the fire and it is holding at 50 acres and at 50% containment. Extensive mop up due to a Eucalyptus grove. @calfireSCU @AlamedaCoFire @LP_FIRE1974 pic.twitter.com/itZQxIpmlj

— CAL FIRE SCU (@calfireSCU) August 16, 2020

Images of a large wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains were captured by PG&E webcams at around 5:30 a.m.

KPIX-5 reported that there were no immediate details available except that it was in the Bonny Doon area.

Wildfire detected near Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz mtns:https://t.co/X1ueJqiIBc pic.twitter.com/jFrIqMlFNJ

— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) August 16, 2020

Cal Fire's San Benito-Monterey Unit reported an approximately 20-acre fire with about 5% containment.

#RiverFire S of Salinas (Monterey Co) currently 20 acres, 5% contained. No structures threatened, no evacuations pic.twitter.com/BJgdcOWq1S

— CAL FIRE BEU (@CALFIREBEU) August 16, 2020

The Santa Clara County Fire Department and Cal Fire responded to a vegetation fire on Brush Road in the Redwood Estates area, possibly threatening structures, but at approximately 8:00 a.m., it was reported to be 100% contained.

#BrushFire With an aggressive response to the fire from @sccfiredept @calfireSCU @CALFIRECZU. We have 100% containment on the fire. Thank you to the cooperation of all agencies. pic.twitter.com/ClLKrcc25x

— CAL FIRE SCU (@calfireSCU) August 16, 2020

According to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District. it dispatched all available units to a grass fire caused by dry lightning on Briones Valley Road in Brentwood. Around 8:00 a.m., Cal Fire said crews are currently battling three to five separate fires totaling 50-75 acres with a moderate rate of spread in the Round Valley Area in Contra Costa County. 

#DeerZone Firefighters are battling 3-5 separate fires totaling 50-75 acres, moderate rate of spread in the Round Valley Area (Contra Costa County). Significant augmentation in air and ground resources. @calfireSCU @ContraCostaFire @ECCFPD pic.twitter.com/EKXd3IC6lC

— CAL FIRE SCU (@calfireSCU) August 16, 2020

The Santa Rosa Fire Department said reports of downed trees and power lines, as well as other lightning-related incidents, are being responded to by agencies around Sonoma County.

Cal Fire has yet to confirm whether all fires Sunday morning have been caused by lightning but said that it has crews responding to seven other vegetation fires in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. 

Meanwhile, power is out for tens of thousands of people across the Bay Area in hundreds of different power outages. Most of the outages look to be storm-related, with reports of downed and damaged power lines throughout the region. The largest outage currently looks to be in Richmond, with over 5,000 customers affected. About 4,500 customers were effected in San Mateo County. PG&E said they are working on restoring power. This morning's power outages are unrelated to the recent blackouts from hot temperatures and strain on the electrical grid.

Sunday morning's power outages are unrelated to the recent blackouts from hot temperatures and strain on the electrical grid.

Bay Area residents quickly took to Twitter to share their experiences and stunning visuals. 

Reposting this. Unsure of the fire name, but this is the fire in Livermore near vineyard Rd. pic.twitter.com/aLVlCVLOef

— Gillis Jones (@Gillis57) August 16, 2020

Wild lightning tonight along the coast, as seen from Pacifica, CA. #CAwx @NWSBayArea pic.twitter.com/WJhvq7l7lg

— Jeff (@Negative_Tilt) August 16, 2020

A massive fast-moving apparent “Roll Cloud” impacted the Santa Cruz Coast shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday morning. #CAwx @RobMayeda @Weather_West @danncianca pic.twitter.com/jFSmWGyxiA

— Jaden Schaul (@jadenschaul) August 16, 2020

A thread of the storm currently in Santa Cruz pic.twitter.com/wT1eZiPCxL

— HeartsGG.live (@goldcvp) August 16, 2020

KCBS Radio's Holly Quan captured this video from the Oakland Hills. 

Erratic and dangerous weather conditions in the Bay Area overnight. Video by @QuanKCBSradio in the #OaklandHills. pic.twitter.com/IiEmSp9dZ1

— KCBS 106.9 FM/740 AM (@KCBSRadio) August 16, 2020

The National Weather Service has advised the public to move indoors immediately. Cal Fire has reminded the public to maintain a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around their structures.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Reporting contributed by Andy Clausen and Bejan Siavoshy.