A woman walking two small dogs in Pico Rivera was struck by lightning when unusual early-summer thunderstorms hit Southern California on Wednesday, officials said.
The monsoon storm system has resulted in scattered power outages and temporary closures of the college campus and beaches in some coastal areas.
In Pico Rivera, the deadly lightning strike occurred around 8:50 a.m. as a woman was walking along the San Gabriel River, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The woman, who has not been identified, died at the scene, officials said. Two dogs also died.
According to Sheriff Captain Jody Hutak, a passerby saw the woman in distress and called 911 around 9 a.m. Fire officials determined she was struck by lightning.
Her death prompted Pico Rivera city manager Steve Carmona to warn city field workers to stay indoors. City officials have also closed a golf course in the northern part of the city, canceled the local farmers’ market and ordered that the summer camp be held indoors, he said.
Unstable weather also closed several local beaches along the Orange County and Long Beach coastlines as lightning strikes were reported offshore. By noon, the coastline was open again.
Huntington Beach from Beach Boulevard to Seapoint Avenue, as well as the public areas of Huntington Harbor and the Sunset Beach area, were among the first to close at 8:30 a.m. due to nearby lightning strikes, said Huntington-Marine Security Chief Beach Eric Dieterman.
He said they thought it would be a quick episode of rough weather, but it kept “rolling” into the morning hours.
— Mark Evans (@markevans_ap) June 22, 2022
A strong thunderstorm cell formed early this morning in the Pasadena area, prompting the National Weather Service to warn of potentially gusty winds, lightning and even hail in parts of the San Gabriel Valley.
The weather service also reported lightning strikes and thunderstorms over Mount Wilson as the system moved northwest covering Monrovia, the Angeles Cross highway between Mount Wilson and Waterman, the Sierra Madre, Arcadia and Duarte. The NWS recorded wind gusts as high as 51 mph at Mount Wilson and up to 66 mph at Lake Hughes.
By dawn, forecasters reported that the eastern part of the county was “overwhelmed by rain and (thunderstorms)”. Most areas that received rain received relatively little rain, typically less than a quarter of an inch, but forecasters warned of potentially higher amounts in some areas.
In Pasadena, lightning struck a palm tree on Manzanita Avenue and Clinton Street around 8 a.m., causing a minor power outage, city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. The fire was quickly put out, she said, and fewer than 20 accounts were affected by the outage.
Callers also reported seeing smoke near Eaton Canyon and Henninger Flats in the woods around 9:30 am, she said. The US Forest Service has reached out to the Pasadena and Los Angeles County fire departments for help, Derderian said.
E32 assisted the ANF and LAC in a lightning strike over Henniger Flats called “Eaton Fire”. Due to access issues, the UTV32 was used to bring crews to the firing line. pic.twitter.com/7nqdz6e6Te
— Pasadena Fire Department (@PasadenaFD) June 22, 2022
According to Dana Dirkes, spokeswoman for the Angeles National Forest, firefighters also responded to several reports of smoke in the forest due to lightning. The agency said the US Forest Service was monitoring three small fires caused by lightning in an area west of Mount Wilson, Sulfur Springs and Mount Harvard near Henninger Flats.
They have had hundreds of lightning strikes in the past 24 hours, she said. But Dierkes pointed out that not all lightning strikes the ground.
Firefighters have dealt with three small fires this morning in Angeles National Forest – in Sulfur Springs, on Mount Harvard near Henninger Flats and west of Mount Wilson. Thanks, @LAKOFD as well as @PasadenaFD for help at Harvard. We helped @LAKOFD as well as @LAFD on two other fires. pic.twitter.com/8eh1Y2sPBJ
— Angeles National Forest (@Angeles_NF) June 23, 2022
La Verne police asked the public to avoid the 8th Street and Marco Court area in the morning after the transformer was struck by lightning, but cleared the scene in the afternoon. The strike caused a power outage, leaving 74 customers without power as of 4:30 p.m., according to Southern California Edison.
Dozens of power outages were reported in the region as of Wednesday afternoon due to the storm, according to SCE.
Cerritos College closed its campus for the remainder of Wednesday following a power outage caused by lightning, the college said.
The campus is closed for the rest of the day due to a power outage caused by lightning. If you are on campus, please feel free to go to the exit and go home. We will keep you updated as new details become available. Sorry for the disruption. pic.twitter.com/4qS8Rlxj8H
— cerritoscollege (@cerritoscollege) June 22, 2022
Residents of Whittier and unincorporated counties near the city have reported seeing hail. According to Casey Oswant, NWS meteorologist, hail was also reported from the area around Ursa Major.
While much of Los Angeles County weathered the storms, the weather system will shift to mountains and desert areas on Wednesday, according to NWS meteorologist Ryan Kittell. Areas around Hemet and Beaumont could see scattered showers throughout Wednesday evening and night, Oswant said.
While Orange County residents saw thunderstorms, lightning and thunder, there was no significant rainfall, Dan Gregoria, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Wednesday morning. “Rain and storms will fade and subside (Wednesday evening),” he said. “Thursday afternoon there will be isolated thunderstorms in the mountains.”
The most rainfall as of Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles County was 1.02 inches near Chilao Flat in Angeles National Forest, Kittell said. Between a quarter and a half inch of rain fell in the western San Gabriel Mountains all the way to the Antelope Valley, NWS meteorologist Kristen Stewart said.
A flash flood warning was issued for San Gorgonio Pass near Whitewater before 6:30 p.m. after half an inch of rain fell in 15 minutes, Oswant said. According to her, in this area there was a flooding of the roadway.
Flash flood warning including Whitewater, California through 6:30 pm PT. pic.twitter.com/5EOeQmCwlE
— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) June 22, 2022
Gregoria said that from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning Orange County and the Inland Empire received a tenth of an inch of rain. But in mountainous areas, he said, about half an inch fell.
Mount Thomas, located in the mountains of Riverside County, received 0.81 inches of rain in a day, Oswant said.
On Thursday, Kittell said we could see showers or thunderstorms in the mountains and desert areas of Los Angeles County in the afternoon.
There is a 5 percent chance of rain in coastal areas and valleys on Thursday, and a 20 percent chance in mountains and desert areas in the afternoon, he said.
There is a small chance of thunderstorms in desert areas on Thursday, Gregoria said.
Mercury is expected to reach the mid-80s and 90s in interior Los Angeles County, including the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles, Kittell said. He added that the beach areas will be in the style of the 70s.
Temperatures on Thursday will be between 85 and 95 degrees, he said, but not as humid. The beach areas will still be in the 70s but less humid.
Highs along the coast in Orange County will be in the 70s and near the 90s in inland areas like Anaheim on Wednesday, Gregoria said. He added that high temperatures in the Inland Empire will be in the mid-90s.
According to Gregoria, the temperature will be about the same on Thursday.
Staff Writer Leylan Connelly and City News Service contributed to this report.