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Lightning strikes near North Pole in rare event, weather service says

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6 days ago Ryan W. Miller

First fires for the Arctic, now rare lightning strikes?

In an unusual event Saturday evening, multiple lightning strikes were detected within 300 miles of the North Pole, the National Weather Service said.

The strikes occurred between 4 and 6 p.m. local time about 700 miles north of the Lena River Delta in Siberia, the NWS said.

"This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory," the weather service said in a statement.

According to Weather.com, while summer lightning strikes do occur in the Arctic, they are rare and often not as far north as Saturday's weather event.

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NWS meteorologist in Fairbanks, Alaska, Ryan Metzger told the Washington Post, "I wouldn’t say it’s never happened before, but it’s certainly unusual, and it piqued our attention."

Thunderstorms form with warm, moist air moving upward. The rare event for the Arctic comes amid a particularly hot July around the globe.

Scientists predicted July 2019 would be the Earth's hottest month ever with record-breaking heat waves sweltering the northern hemisphere.

While no single weather event can be tied directly to global warming, scientists say that human-caused climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather.

And it isn't just rare thunderstorms hitting the Arctic. Wildfires were spotted in satellites images from eastern Siberia to Greenland to Alaska in July. Scientists expressed concern given the magnitude of those fires.

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"The fires appear to be further north than usual, and some appear to have ignited peat soils," Thomas Smith, an assistant professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics, told USA TODAY in July. 

Contributing: Doyle Rice and Morgan Hines. Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lightning strikes near North Pole in rare event, weather service says

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