L.A.-Area Beaches Reopen After Lightning Storm Prompts Closures; 4,749 Remain Without Power

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All beaches in Los Angeles County and Huntington Beach reopened after being closed for hours due to a lightning storm that initially left more than 10,000 customers without electricity on Saturday amid unseasonable rainfall in the region.

Los Angeles County Fire Dept. Lifeguard Capt. Remy Smith announces to beachgoers that Santa Monica and all other Los Angeles County beaches are closed because of the potential for lightning strikes after lightning was observed in Santa Monica, July 18, 2015. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County Fire Dept. Lifeguard Capt. Remy Smith announces to beachgoers that Santa Monica and all other Los Angeles County beaches were closed because of the potential for lightning strikes after lightning was observed in Santa Monica, July 18, 2015. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Fire officials warned beachgoers they should be ready to “evacuate at a moment’s notice” as additional storms were predicted to hit over the weekend.

At their peak, the power outages were affecting 1,000 residents and businesses in the Vermont-Slauson neighborhood, 2,400 in South L.A. and 2,000 in Lincoln Heights, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In Westlake and University Park, 1,700 and and 1,000 customers, respectively, were in the dark.

Utility crews responded to the affected areas and were working to restore electricity, said Kim Hughes, spokeswoman for LADWP. By 11 p.m., 4,729 LADWP customers were still were still without power.

All Los Angeles County beaches were closed twice Saturday due to lightning strikes along the coast, with the first closure lasting nearly two hours and officials reopening the areas around 9:50 a.m.

The second closure was announced by the Los Angeles County Fire Department around 2 p.m. Although the beaches reopened at 8 p.m., the department discouraged beachgoers from entering the water at night.

Shortly before the second L.A. closure, Long Beach officials closed all local beaches, the Long Beach Fire Department tweeted around 1:44 p.m. Huntington Beach was also closed due to lightning, city officials tweeted around 1 p.m.

All beaches in Long Beach and Huntington Beach reopened as of 6 p.m.

Additional thunderstorms were expected throughout the weekend and beachgoers should be “ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” the L.A. County Fire Department tweeted Saturday morning.

“If thunder roars, go indoors,” the department stated.

Seeking shelter underneath piers, canopies, tents and lifeguard towers does not offer protection from the lightning, according to L.A. firefighters.

Storms could hit L.A., Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo counties over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

“Any thunderstorms that develop will have the potential for deadly cloud to ground lightning, gusty winds and heavy rain,” the weather service stated.

Rain fell in L.A. County Saturday morning, with the largest amounts recorded in the mountain areas. The highest amount, nearly half an inch, was recorded near unincorporated Acton Saturday afternoon.

The storm then moved north, hitting Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Lightning splits the sky over downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, July 18, 2015. (Credit: Harry Chandler / For the Los Angeles Times)

Lightning splits the sky over downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, July 18, 2015. (Credit: Harry Chandler / For the Los Angeles Times)

“A large south to southeast swell will impact the southwest California coast waters tonight through Monday,” the weather service stated Saturday.

Three- to 5-foot breakers with max sets of 6 feet were expected at south-facing beaches such as Cabrillo and Zuma in Los Angeles County; Port Hueneme in Ventura County; and Avila, Pismo, Cayucos, San Simeon and Jalama in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

The weather service initially stated max sets of 8 feet were predicted, but later lowered the number to 6.

There was also a high risk of strong and frequent rip currents. Anyone caught in a rip current was advised to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore.

The wet weather was predicted to build Sunday, peaking that night and continuing into Monday, according to the weather service.