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Lightning strikes in Western Canada soars by tenfold.

satellite image of lightning strikes

Image Credit: Screenshot obtained from Twitter account Dakota Smith

Meteorologists revealed that lightning strikes between last Wednesday and Thursday in Western Canada have surged nearly tenfold when compared to the same time a year ago. They believe that this surge in lightning strikes has been triggered by the record-breaking heatwave which is currently wreaking havoc in Western Canada and the USA.

Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist with Vaisala, said that his company which is a global environmental measurements company that collects weather, environmental and industrial data, recorded 710,000 lightning strikes in Western Alberta and British Columbia between 3 p.m. on Wednesday and 6 a.m. on Thursday. This is a significant increase over the same period in the last five years when the average was only 8,300 lightning strikes.

Three days ago, the town of Lytton recorded a temperature of 49.6 C, breaking Canada’s all previous records. On Wednesday, a fire broke out in the town, and it quickly spread causing major destruction. Two people died as a result of the fire.

The lightning strikes have increased partly due to the record-breaking heatwave. According to Jonathan Bau, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, high temperatures creates high levels of moisture in the atmosphere in the form of melting snow and evaporation of water from vegetation. The moisture increases the strength of the thunderstorms.

As a result of the thousands of lightning strikes several forest fires broke out. Across central British Colombia, there are 136 fires as of Friday afternoon. Officials believe that these fires will spread and burn 100,000 hectares of land by the end of the weekend. It is a significant figure when comparing it to previous years. Forest fires in British Colombia usually start late July.

More details to follow.

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