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Thunderstorms, Showers Strike Southern California, Bringing Flash Flood Risks to Recent Burn Areas

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While most of California remains deep in a smoldering heat wave, erratic thundershowers and flash flooding were forecast to hit some parts of Southern California Sunday afternoon, including recent burn areas.

Raindrops spatter the lens of the camera on Sky5 as the helicopter surveys the La Tuna fire area on Sept. 3, 2017. (Credit: Sky5 / KTLA)

Raindrops spatter the lens of the camera on Sky5 as the helicopter surveys the La Tuna fire area on Sept. 3, 2017. (Credit: Sky5 / KTLA)

The thunderstorms first broke out around 2:30 p.m. across the Antelope Valley, where up to an inch of rain falling per hour prompted a flash flood warning, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The brief but heavy downpours and gusty winds were spread across mountain areas in Los Angeles County, including where the La Tuna fire continued to burn in the Verdugo Mountains, bringing some relief to firefighters but overall complicating conditions.

The storm system was traveling west and moved across the San Gabriel Valley and into the Pasadena area after 5 p.m., where a flash flood watch was effect until 10 p.m. Residents in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Fernando Valley were also placed under the watch.

Later in the evening the showers began dropping water in East Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park, NWS said.

Residents also reported showers in various areas across Southern California, from Jurupa Valley, to Long Beach, to central Los Angeles.

Though rain could offer some reprieve to the La Tuna Fire burning in the Verdugo Mountains, “dry lightning” and erratic winds may lead to further fire issues, according to the weather service. Most troubling were the winds, which could kick up stagnant-yet-scorching embers into renewed flares, officials said.

Flash flooding near recent burn areas — including the La Tuna, Whittier and Alamo fires — was also a possibility.

Meanwhile, high-temperature records were set at Los Angeles International Airport and across West Ventura County, including in Oxnard and Camarillo.

In Santa Barbara County, flash flooding and severe thunderstorm warnings in effect until 4:30 p.m., with more than 1 inch of rain expected to fall per hour. NWS recorded heavy rain, half-inch hail and wind at speeds exceeding 40 mph in the area.

Video captured in Santa Barbara showed residents screaming as a torrential downpour whipped around trees and debris. The viewer who recorded the footage said the storm sent the roof flying off the building she was in, and her office was flooded with 5 inches of water.