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KOIN meteorologist Kelley Bayern explains why lightning may be attracted to WL

COURTESY PHOTO - Kelley Bayern explains how lightning is generated. It doesn't happen all that frequently. But lightning strikes seem to occur a bit more frequently in West Linn than in neighboring cities. A lightning bolt that splintered a tree near a West Linn home two weeks ago reminded some residents of several other storms that led to lightning damage in recent years.

KOIN meteorologist Kelley Bayern recently explained to the Tidings what causes lightning and what might attract it to West Linn.

"Lightning is caused by air convection (up/down movement) inside of storms. As water and ice droplets rise and fall, they rub against each other and create static electricity. They'll separate within the cloud, the negative charges fall to the base of the cloud, positives on top," Bayern said. "As t-storms pass through the valley, those negative charges want to connect with positive charges that are on top of the tallest objects like trees and antennas."

Because many trees sit high on West Linn's hill, they make great targets for lightning, Bayer explained.

"I chatted with the National Weather Service in Portland last week about those storms we had. They estimated anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occurred last Wednesday (June 26) throughout the state," Bayern said. "Whether the region will see more abundant lightning events this summer is still left unknown. But Wednesday's lightning event was one of the largest in recent summers."

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