A storm that swept through the region Monday afternoon hit Southeast Washington the hardest but also impacted Union and Wallowa counties. In Wallowa county, it sparked the first lightning-kindled fires of the season, signaling that fire season has arrived.
Wallowa County received an estimated 30 to 40 lightning strikes, most of which were north of Enterprise, according to information from the Blue Mountain Interagency District Center. Despite the presence of some rainfall with the storm, at least two of the strikes ignited small fires, one five miles from Lostine and another three miles from Flora. Lightning strikes from the storm on Saturday evening also knocked out Internet service for many in Wallowa County.
It is not known how many strikes Union County received, but it was less than Wallowa County, Jerry Garrett, of the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center, said.
Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington received about 600 total lightning strikes during the storm, Garrett said.
Wind speeds reached 55 miles per hour in Walla Walla, Washington, where downed power lines were reported, according to John Peck, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
The storm systems and stormy weather, which the National Weather Service began issuing warnings for late last week, was caused by a mix of high temperatures and high humidity.
“This created unstable conditions,” Peck said.