Lightning, rain intensifies while striking central San Joaquin Valley skies

Lightning flashed across the skies of the central San Joaquin Valley over and over Thursday night and again Friday morning, part of a severe thunderstorm that the National Weather Service in Hanford issued a warning about earlier in the evening.

Severe thunderstorm warnings went out for areas in Madera County, including Oakhurst and Coarsegold, and Auberry in Fresno County. The storm was expected to have winds up to 50 mph and hail the size of quarters.

The warning was in effect until 8:15 p.m. The warning was first scheduled to end at 7:45 p.m.

Lightning was seen as late as 8:19 p.m. from downtown Fresno, and the flashes seemed to intensify over time.

The thunderstorm, however, was expected to dissipate as it moved southward toward Fresno in a couple of hours, according to meteorologist Bill South of the National Weather Service.

As of 9:15 p.m., wind gusts were at about 45 mph.

Around the same time, heavy rain came down and lightning flashed by the Fresno State campus. Thunder and lightning occurred in east Clovis, too.

The storm was expected to continue until 10 p.m., followed by isolated spotted showers.

South said it’s uncommon for thunderstorms to occur in the central San Joaquin Valley during this time of year.

The meteorologist added that the thunderstorm was caused by excessive moisture in the air in recent days with humidity at 74 percent Thursday.

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