RECORD SETTING Rain & Lightning Storm Moves Across Southern California
An atmospheric-river-fueled winter storm hammered the region with heavy rain, hail and thunderstorms overnight, producing a dramatic lightning show in the Southern California sky — and it’s not over yet.
The latest storm in the state’s wild winter, which dumped heavy rain on Santa Barbara County overnight, moved into Los Angeles County early Wednesday and was expected to linger throughout the day.
Bands of heavy showers in Malibu sent mud and rocks sliding onto Malibu Canyon Road, temporarily blocking a portion of the southbound side of the street, as the storm settled into L.A. early in the day. Forecasters predict scattered showers through Friday.
From 1.5 to 2 inches of rain is expected to fall in Malibu, Woodland Hills, Santa Clarita and Pasadena through early Thursday, while the rest of Los Angeles will likely see about an inch of precipitation or slightly more, according to the National Weather Service.
The brunt of the storm hung over Santa Barbara and Ventura counties overnight, dumping — in just nine minutes — 0.24 inches on the Thomas fire burn zone. As of early Wednesday, the atmospheric river, swollen with subtropical moisture, had poured 2.61 inches of rain on Potrero Lane in Santa Barbara County and more than 3 inches on the Pine Mountain Inn in Ventura County within 24 hours, according to the weather service.
Concerns over flooding in Santa Barbara County prompted authorities to order evacuations ahead of the storm for about 3,000 people living below hillsides ravaged by the Sherpa, Thomas and Whittier fires. Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials lifted the evacuations, which took effect Tuesday afternoon, at 8 a.m. on Wednesday after the rains failed to trigger significant mudslides in the region. Officials, however, said residents should use caution returning home as many roads had mud and standing water on them.
Weather officials said the storm’s most impressive show came in the form of hail that fell in Santa Barbara and lightning that lighted up the Southern California sky, stretching from southern Kern County past the Channel Islands.
Approximately 2,200 lightning strikes hit the area stretching from Santa Barbara County to LA County, according to Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
A strong batch of thunderstorms created “lightning storms,” the NWS Los Angeles said — prompting the agency to alert residents to take precautions as they peeked at the power of mother nature.
Meteorologists called this phenomenon the Atmospheric River, where the jet stream is coming further south and pushing an abundant amount of moisture into the area, Kaplan said.
But this strange event, is just another weird weather occurrence this winter — the area last month had a dusting of snow along the coastline in areas including Malibu.
“For Southern California, its unusual,” Kaplan told CNN. Lightning typically hits the area in the deserts during the summer monsoonal season.
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