Storm cluster brings thunder, lightning to area; beach closures lifted

Authorities have reopened Southern California beaches that were closed by lightning strikes as thunderstorms moved across the region.

All beach areas in Santa Monica and Malibu were evacuated and closed for an hour or more Wednesday afternoon because of an electrical storm.

Fueled by a flow of monsoonal moisture, the storms moved from east to west across the area, with rain and thunder reported in the San Gabriel Valley before the precipitation arrived in the West Los Angeles and West Hollywood area by around 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday's surprise storm cell moved rapidly out of the inland region and through Los Angeles, hurling lightning bolts and dropping rain. However, most Los Angeles County areas recorded only a fraction of an inch of rain.

A short time later, lightning was spotted in the Santa Monica area, prompting the city to issue an evacuation order for the ocean and beach areas. Authorities warned people to seek shelter indoors until the storm passed.

From Phil Shuman:

Lightning is nothing to mess around with. When the lifeguards ordered everyone off the beach in late morning up and down or So Cal coast, it was met with indifference by some, acceptance by others, and reluctance by most.

The threat, while remote, is real. In 2014 a sudden thunderstorm that produced lightning killed a 20 year old swimmer and injured seven others in Venice. If you're a golfer you know that lightning means you're off the course immediately.

Fortunately, nothing serious (so far) happened during today's thunderstorms, it was more of an inconvenience if you were driving and a temporary cool off than anything else.

On the Santa Monica pier, tourists I spoke were disappointed they had come all this way then had to leave the sand, (it takes a lot of work to get to the beach) but they were back quickly, and those bird and lime scooters were nearly knocking people over again in no time.

Farther in from the coast, placed like Benedict Canyon were inundated with rain, hard but brief. As dry and hot as it's been, some wet weather was welcome, at least by me.


National Weather Service officials echoed that advice, with a Twitter post saying, "When thunder roars go indoors.''

Forecasters said warm and humid conditions were expected to continue into the afternoon, with a slight chance of additional thunderstorms lingering into tonight.

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