Lightning strikes Bay Bridge in midst of dramatic storm

Lightning strikes the Bay Bridge on Thursday night. Photo: ABC Bay Area News

Last night’s impressive thunderstorm has created rivers of rainwater flowing down many Berkeley streets and flooded backyards. The lightning that accompanied the deluge also made for some stunning photographs. The image above is one of several shot by ABC Bay Area News. Phil McGrew also captured the moment the bridge was struck in a photo circulating on Twitter.

Over on SFist, a photo gallery includes a remarkable one of the Golden Gate Bridge being struck.

Some airplanes coming into Bay Area airports took their time landing in the storm last night, and a United Airlines flight which took off at 7:40pm headed for London was forced to dump fuel and make an emergency return to SFO after the plane was struck by lightning.

There were no reports of power disruptions in Berkeley, although some areas, including Concord, did see outages after lines came down.

There’s a 70% chance of more rain today in Berkeley, although it should clear tomorrow and be a dry weekend with sun on Sunday.

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

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  • Bill

    I sat out on the front porch with a nice scotch in hand and enjoyed the lightning and thunder.  It was impressive and the best show in years.

  • Andrew

    My dog was terrified. 

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    I was driving from San Francisco to the East Bay and my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

  • serkes

    Was indoors at the Harvey Milk Photography Center in SF … and kept hearing the N-Judah Light Rail Car go by.

    Then it sounded like a really big streetcar rumbled by.

    I do miss lightning and thunder.


  • serkes

    I heard there was 10″ of water in the Yerba Buena tunnel.

  • Marc

    What was it about Thursday night that led to thunder and lightning?  In all of my years here, I’ve never seen/heard anything like that.  Unfortunately, the articles I’ve looked at are focused on what the lightning struck, not how such an unusual storm came to be.

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    The Chronicle had a good story today that answered this question:

    “Thunderstorms are uncommon in the Bay Area, but when they do strike, it’s usually in the spring and fall. That’s when warm air blowing in from the central Pacific mixes with frigid air from the Gulf of Alaska, said Jan Null, a meteorologist for Golden Gate Weather Services.As the warm air races upward through the cold, it builds an electric charge. That charge is released as the bolts of lightning and rumbling thunder that captivated people throughout the Bay Area Thursday night.”The greater the difference (in air temperature), the stronger a storm you are going to have,” Null said.The uppermost layer of air in Thursday’s storm hovered around 40 degrees below zero, while the lower air was about 50 degrees, Null said.”

    Read more: