Meteorologists react to thousands of lightning strikes over Santa Barbara

UCSB meteorologists share their thoughts about recent lightning strikes

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A photo of lightning strikes taken by Santa Barbara County Fire's Mike Eliason went viral on Tuesday night.

Robert Murphy said, "I shared it with a lot of people, sent it home to my wife so she could see it. I''m down here on a work trip and got a little more excitement than I was expecting with the thunderstorm."

The National Weather Service in Oxnard reported 1200 strikes in just five minutes over Santa Barbara and almost twice that over the region.

Dr. Leila Carvalho,  who earned her meteorology degree in Brazil, told her students at the University of California, Santa Barbara about the science behind the unusual winter weather.

"Hail caused this. When there is too much hail in the clouds there is some friction between hail's particles and they become electrified."

Her meterologist husband, Dr. Charles Jones said you see the lightning before you hear it.

"The sounds comes later as the propogation of the sound waves are much slower than the speed of light."

Carvalho said the beach isn't a safe place to watch.

"Sometimes you think the lightening is very far away but the lightning, the lightning can curve and can hit long distances."

They don't recommend holding an umbrella because you don't want to be holding the highest object around. They recommend heading indoors.

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