Weather News

Sacramento weather cools as lightning creates wildfire concern in Northern California

Sacramento weather will likely return to normal to end the week after a rare phenomenon brought a few minutes of morning rain on an otherwise hot Wednesday.

Preliminary data provided by the National Weather Service listed no measurable amount of precipitation recorded Wednesday at the region’s primary observation station, Sacramento Executive Airport. But images posted to social media – including a tweet by the NWS, which snapped photos of wet ground outside its office in Arden Arcade – documented a brief bout of rain passing through the area between roughly 9 and 9:30 a.m.

The rain ended and Sacramento went on to hit a high of 98 degrees Wednesday afternoon. That mark is about 10 degrees above average for early September, according to the NWS.

The capital may see some cloud coverage, but no more rain is expected to fall this week as the region cools down a few degrees, according to the latest NWS forecasts.

Thursday and Friday are forecast to reach high temperatures of 93 degrees ahead of a relatively pleasant weekend, with a high of just 84 degrees predicted for Saturday and 87 degrees Sunday.

What was that rain all about?

The small round of precipitation that hit Sacramento, then proceeded north through the Sacramento Valley, came as part of a weather system that brought heavy thunderstorms to Sierra and Plumas counties Wednesday evening.

The NWS explained in a tweet that Sacramento’s bout of rain resulted from midlevel clouds known as “Altocumulus Castellanus,” and that it’s uncommon for them to produce rainfall; the drops usually evaporate before hitting the ground.

The NWS added that these clouds often come before afternoon thunderstorms, which did occurred elsewhere in Northern California on Wednesday.

Fire risk remains elevated

Thunderstorm conditions prompted the NWS and Cal Fire to issue a red flag warning from 5 p.m. Wednesday through 11 a.m. Thursday across portions of several Northern California counties as well as southern Oregon.

Red flag warnings are spurred by conditions that present high risk of wildfire danger: low humidity, hot weather, high winds, and, in this case, “abundant lightning” potential.

This week’s red flag warning includes patches of Butte, Mendocino, Plumas and Shasta counties, as well as parts of the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity, Klamath, Lassen and Plumas national forests.

Small Lake County fire under control

A complex of seven small wildfires ignited Wednesday afternoon along Highway 29 between Kelseyville and Clear Lake in Lake County, according to Cal Fire.

Sparking around 4:30 p.m. with a moderate rate of spread that forced closure of the highway, crews halted forward progress on the fire at 20 acres, with 40 percent containment reported, by 8 p.m. Highway 29 reopened at 9 p.m., Cal Fire said.

The cause of the fire, referred to by Cal Fire as the Glass Fire incident, remains under investigation. More than 170 personnel were assigned to the blaze Wednesday evening. No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported, Cal Fire said.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.