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Hawaii News

Lightning struck the aina about 40,000 times

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Photo by Jamm Aquino/jaquino@staradvertiser.com
Lightning illuminates the sky over Kakaako Waterfront Park on Monday.

Photo Gallery: Reader submitted weather photos

There were about 40,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during a 30-hour period as a storm moved over Hawaii this week, the National Weather Service said.

During the peak of the storm between about 7 p.m. and midnight Monday, about 15,000 strikes were recorded.

Lightning might strike again early next week as the same weather system is predicted to move back over the islands.

No one was injured in the spectacular storm, but forecaster Bob Ballard said residents need to be aware that lightning can strike even when it’s not raining and should seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard.

"People are most at risk from lightning when it’s on the edge of the storm," he said. "When it’s raining people tend to go indoors. People have a false sense of security. They think when it’s not raining they can’t be struck."

Ballard said there have been lightning injuries here but no deaths since at least 1959, when the Weather Service first began keeping records. "We don’t want anyone here to be the first."

"We appreciate the beauty of the lightning. The photos looked spectacular," he said. "But we want people to be safe. Don’t go up to the Diamond Head Lookout to take photos. Then you’re really asking for it."

This week’s storms were caused by warm, moist air rising from the ground into a cold unstable weather system in the upper atmosphere. That same system will moving back in starting tomorrow, Ballard said.

That same upper level weather system is moving back over the islands starting Friday, Ballard said. Tradewinds should keep thunderstorms from developing tomorrow and Saturday, although we may see heavier tradewind showers, he said.

However, the tradewinds could weaken early next week and there’s a possiblity of lightning and heavy rain through Wednesday, Ballard said.

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