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Friday, July 1, 2022

A woman and two dogs were killed by lightning during a thunderstorm that swept through Southern California

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 also caused temporary beach closures in Orange and Los Angeles counties and resulted in scattered power outages and warm and muggy conditions throughout the region.

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.

A passer-by saw a woman in distress on the road and called 911 around 9 am. According to Sheriff Captain Jody Hutak, fire officials determined she was struck by lightning based on her injuries.

The woman’s death prompted Pico Rivera city manager Steve Carmona to warn city public works employees and other city workers on the ground, telling them to stay at home. 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.

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 on Wednesday morning over Mount Wilson, with the system moving 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. One area in the San Gabriel Mountains was just under an inch as of mid-morning.

In Pasadena, lightning struck a palm tree on Manzanita Avenue and Clinton Street around 8 a.m. Wednesday, 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.

According to Dana Dirkes, spokeswoman for the Angeles National Forest, firefighters also responded to several reports of smoke in the forest due to lightning.

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.

La Verne police urged the public to avoid the 8th Street area and the Marco Court area due to a lightning strike on a transformer. The transformer also caused the power outage, police said.

Residents of Whittier and unincorporated counties near the city have reported seeing hail.

While much of Los Angeles County weathered the storms and on Wednesday, the weather system will shift to mountains and desert areas, according to Ryan Kittell, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“For most of the metro area, this morning will be the busiest,” he said. Precipitation will vary, Kittell said, with some areas getting 10th of an inch.

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 the woods, Kittell said.

“It didn’t rain that much,” Gregoria said. “We have a dry atmosphere on the lower level. When it rains, most of it evaporates.”

He said that from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning Orange County and the Inland Empire had received a tenth of an inch of rain. But in mountainous areas, he said, about half an inch fell.

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 have temperatures 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.

World Nation News Desk
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