2,500 lightning strikes batter Washington state

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Bands of powerful overnight thunderstorms jolted thousands of people out of bed early Wednesday morning in Western Washington and sparked a few wildfires in Eastern Washington.

About 2,500 lightning strikes were recorded in the entire state during the storm. Although most were in Eastern Washington, about 120 to 130 struck west of the Cascades, including the Puget Sound region.

"This is a high number of lightning strikes for the state as a whole, not just typical," said Josh Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle. "We had some super-cells in Eastern Washington."

Lightning sparked about 10 wildfires in the northeast corner of the state, between Omak and Colville, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

The entire storm system generated about 8,000 lightning strikes across the Northwest in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with most of them in Idaho, he said.

Hundreds of lightning strikes also hit Western Washington overnight.

The first band of thunderstorms rumbled through around 11 p.m. Tuesday, then another more powerful group of storms lit up the sky around 2 a.m.

The flashes and rumbles of thunder came one right after another. Rain came along with some of the storms, but most of the area got very little precipitation.

A meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Seattle, Danny Mercer, says there were about 100 lightning strikes overnight in Western Washington, but little rain.

The thunderstorms were relatively high and dry, above 10,000 feet.

Forecasters said dry, stable weather is returning. Above-normal temperatures in the 90s and low 100s are forecast for Central Washington and Northeast Oregon this week.