West coast lack of lightning

When I was a young boy in St. Louis, MO, my dad and I considered it good entertainment to sit on the balcony of our apartment and watch the lightning storms. There’d be a good crack every half minute or so, not counting all the little ones sometimes in between.

In 1980, we moved to the L.A. area. No lightning. Not no rain, just no lightning. I can barely recall the last time I heard a real good thunder clap. Of course it does happen occasionally, but every time I remark on it to myself because it’s been so long since the last time. Why is that?

Maybe it’s because we rarely have tornadoes.
Actually, thunderstorms, which give you the joys of both tornadoes and lightning. Thunderstorms, sans tornadoes, are pretty cool.
Oh well, we’ll just have to suffer the sunshine. :slight_smile:

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

Lightning usually comes with thunderstorms (as if you couldnt tell :)). Since California gets most of its rainy weather in the winter, there isn’t much heat to cause the uplift of moisture to cause thunderstorms, so no lightning. Up here in Central California (Coast), i can remember a few times getting some lightning, but not much. Just recently a couple of weeks ago we got a really good lightning storm. Lasted from 2pm one day and extended til the early morning hours of the next day. They also touched off a wildfire.

That makes a great deal of sense, and explains why nearby Tucson gets a great deal of lightning-- because Tucson has most of its rain in the summer.

Ok, but what exactly is a thunderstorm? Are you saying that having a lot of moisture in the air in general is what contributes to lightning? And because the colder air is likely to be drier, there isn’t much lightning out this-a-way?

An additional question:

If L.A. is right next to a rather large body of water that is evaporating quickly on summer days, why doesn’t it rain very often in the summer? The mid-west USA often has warm summer day rains. I’ve thought of the elevation difference, but I can’t make out how that affects it, if both places have the same temperature on a given day.

If I may be allowed to play dumb-ass weatherman:

The reason you see thunderstorms in the midwest is due to warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with colder, drier Canadian air. The collisions of these two air masses make the gods displeased and so we have storms and tornadoes.

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Warm moist air rises. When it gets to a certain altitude in the sky it condenses into water droplets, forming clouds. This motion (From what I hear) causes a static charge to build up within the cloud.

Warm moist air rises more readily than cold moist air (the kind that makes our winter storms cold and soggy). Big, tall thunderstorms are very moisture laden and have very strong updrafts. Here in winter we have big storms (heavy rain and high winds) but they don’t have the strong updrafts seen in thunderstorms, so we don’t get the charges built up, so no thunderstorm (usually).

We also rarely get hail also. If we do it’s the size of grains of rice, further demonstrating our winter storms don’t have the strong updrafts associated with thunderstorms.