MALIBU, Calif. (FOX 11) - Severe weather that moved into Southern California on Thursday prompted multiple Los Angeles County beaches to close.
Over the public address system, Seal Beach Lifeguard Mike Diller announces, "Attention on the beach, attention on the beach. The beach is now safe to reenter... the beach is open. Once again, the beach is now open."
Two hours earlier it was a different announcement. Lightning caused lifeguards to close the beach for 30 minutes and every time there was more lightning the clock would start all over again for another 30 minutes until it was safe enough to open the beach. It took two hours before Diller could let everyone back.
Capt. Chris Pierce with Seal Beach lifeguards says that with regard to lightning, "The danger is as people are out on the beach, they're on the sand which is traditionally a flat area they're going to be the highest point in the area so, if the lightning comes in that's what it's going to seek out as the high point. If its a person they could hit a direct strike and if it hits the sand that can conduct over and that can electrocute the people in the area."
It's why Steven Wilson was chased off the beach. He came out to take a few pictures. And, he understood.
Wilson telling FOX 11 News, "Of course, you don't want to get hit by lightning."
Though surfer Robert Henderson didn't seem concerned. He and his friend Chad Bard got chased out and when it beach reopened they were the first two we saw head for the water.
The rain was heavy. The lightning sporadic. Nearby we saw a public works crew siphoning out pooling water to protect nearby condos. Mission accomplished.
But, just yards away up in the lifeguard tower all eyes were on the beach, the water, and the sky. In fact, because this was a hard closure, we weren't even allowed on the beach so, with the ocean and all in our background we safely tucked ourselves inside one of the garages of the lifeguard station. Pierce says it's "always about safety" which is why the lifeguards also have to stay out of harm's way during such temporary closures.
Says Pierce, "We pull our lifeguards off of the beach. After they make the notifications and clear the beach at that point they can sit up in our observation tower which is the third floor of our building. They'll keep an eye out for people as they go towards the beach. We can make a PA or public address to notify them of the closure. If they don't respond we can have a lifeguard out in a truck to make contact with them to make sure the public is okay."
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