Lightning kills woman and 2 dogs as thunderstorms hit Southern California

A woman and two dogs were fatally struck by lightning Wednesday morning in Pico Rivera as thunderstorms battered Southern California, prompting authorities to temporarily close beaches and remain vigilant for fires started by dry lightning.

The woman and her two dogs were killed while walking along a path in a river bed just before 9am as extreme weather conditions moved through the southeastern region of Los Angeles, said LA County Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Morey, Pico Rivera’s field sergeant.

“There’s a one in a million chance of something like this happening and it did,” Morey said. He said he did not immediately have any further details about the incident or the woman, but said deputies were continuing to investigate.

Parts of Southern California were hit with thunder, lightning, rain, high winds and even hail overnight and Wednesday morning as monsoon humidity moved through the region.

The National Weather Service issued special weather advisories Wednesday morning for several parts of the region, warning people to be extra careful during morning commutes and to seek shelter in case of inclement weather.

While rainfall and storms were heaviest in northern and eastern Los Angeles County, extreme weather affected the area from western Orange County, where Temporarily closed beaches in Newport Beach early Wednesday due to lightning, in central Ventura County, where firefighters were responding to at least two bushfires in the area of ​​recent storms.

Newport Beach reopened its beaches at 10:45 a.m.

Rain and storm cells were scattered, hitting areas such as Long Beach, downtown Los Angeles, Glendale, western San Gabriel Valley and Antelope Valley.

“We had a pretty active night last night, and it’s continuing this morning,” said Ryan Kittell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard. “Any of these storms could produce a lot of lightning, and we’ve seen gusty winds before. … We’ve had reports of pea-sized hail.

He said wind gusts were recorded at 66 mph just west of Lancaster and hail was reported in Camarillo and Pasadena overnight.

Cerritos College in Norwalk announced the closure of the campus Wednesday after a campus-wide lightning strike and power outage, one of many power outages scattered throughout the region.

Kittell said lightning remains the biggest concern, especially “dry lightning,” which can strike already dry ground without much rain, becoming a huge fire threat.

“In the past hour, we’ve had 208 lightning strikes hitting the ground in Los Angeles County,” Kittell said around 8 a.m. Wednesday. He said the agency recorded 350 more flashes that stayed in the clouds, totaling “quite a lot of flashes” in the area.

“Lightning is a very good source of fire starting and the environment is pretty ripe for fire right now,” Kittell said. He said Wednesday morning that the threat of “dry lightning” remains high, and there have been a few reports of hitting utility poles and minor fires, but all have been manageable so far.

Angeles National Forest firefighters responded to numerous reports of smoke from lightning, officials reported, but the crews have been able to contain all the flames, so far.

The thunderstorms started moving to central California before mid-morningg On Wednesday, National Weather Service officials warned that Kern County could see the heaviest thunderstorms. But in Fresno early Wednesday, authorities responded to a wildfire started by a thunderstorm, the Fresno Bee reported. It has since been contained.

Kittell said the afternoon should bring more humidity with thunderstorms, which should lessen the threat of this dry flash.

Officials have urged campers and others outside to take shelter when lightning and thunder strike and to be on the lookout for fires.

The storms, however, did not bring significant rainfall to the region, with most areas recording less than a quarter inch, but some places that saw the heaviest downpours, such as north of Burbank near Lancaster and west of El Monte recorded closer to half an inch, according to National Weather Service reports.

The Los Angeles area has a 50% chance of showers Wednesday afternoon with highs near 90.

Kittell said the monsoon humidity is the culmination of other pressure systems in the region that change the direction of the wind, pulling in tropical humidity from Mexico. A low pressure system northwest of Los Angeles has shifted the direction of the winds – generally blowing west to east – but now moving south to north.

He said the weather usually only happens a few times a year, usually not until July or August.


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