Many people in dry, fire prone areas out west may be hoping for rain, but thunderstorms can also cause wildfires.
Frye Fire near Safford, AZ. Started by lighting.
Thunderstorms can suppress wildfire activity with rainfall but they also ignite fires with lightning.
It’s true that thunderstorms can help a fire situation with rain, but lightning can strike away from the rain and in some cases the rain from storms doesn’t even reach the ground.
In more humid areas of the country thunderstorms deliver lightning plus plenty of rain. In drier climates like the western US, thunderstorms in many cases skimp on the rain but not the lightning.
In more arid regions like the western US, the lower troposphere is drier and cloud bases are higher. These high based thunderstorms will give raindrops more time to evaporate before they reach the ground, leaving the fuel on the ground dry and primed for ignition.
For Weather Nation: Meteorologist Mike Morrison