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Flooding, Lightning, Hail and Funnel Clouds: Summer Storm Brings Wild Weather to Parts of SoCal

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A summer storm blew through parts of the Southern California Thursday, bringing heavy rain, flash flooding, lightning and even hail to parts of the Inland Empire.

Gushing, muddy waters flooded some streets in Phelan and other parts of San Bernardino County as pounding rain drenched the area during the afternoon, forcing many drivers to take immediate detours.

Along Highway 18, a sheriff's deputy helped a woman and her toddler after their van got stuck near Johnson Road.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department warned motorists to be careful amid the worsening weather conditions.

"#FlashFlooding is occurring in numerous locations throughout the county. Valley, mountain, and high desert communities affected. Please be cautious and DO NOT attempt to drive across roads that are covered by moving water," the department tweeted.

Thunderstorms earlier in the day brought about 2 1/4 inches of rain at Yucaipa Ridge near Forest Falls, while drenching Big Bear Lake with around 1 1/2 inches of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.

Areas like Beaumont, Cherry Valley and Big Bear Lake in particular appeared to be inundated with wet weather and hail that continued through mid-afternoon, videos and images posted on social media showed.

"I have a small pond, now," one man said of the deluge in front of his business. "They say it never rains in California."

A lightning strike sparked a small brush fire in the San Bernardino National Forest north of Big Bear Lake, officials said shortly after 12:30 p.m. It measured roughly 20 feet by 20 feet and was contained within three hours.

Tall funnel clouds were also spotted in Anza and Victorville; one person described the Anza sighting as appearing to look like "a full-blown tornado."

The wild weather came amid forecasts calling for an "active day" across the high desert and mountain of Southern California, with widespread thunderstorms expected to continue through the remainder of the afternoon.

A number of areas were under flash flood warning, including the Cranston Fire burn scar around Idyllwild.

"A small shift in the cell's position could pose a serious flash flood threat," San Bernardino National Forest officials tweeted.

Because of the potential threat for flooding, evacuations were issued for several neighborhoods near the burn area of the recent Cranston Fire, including Hurkey Creek and Apple Canyon, but the order was lifted at 5 p.m.

The area was inundated with "dozens" of debris flows, some of which flowed along Highway 74, Caltrans reported, according to the weather service.

A portion of that highway  -- along with a stretch of stretch of Highway 243 -- were shut down through Mountain Center due to inclement weather; they were later reopened.

Flash flood warnings had also been in effect for a number of Inland Empire areas, among them Beaumont, San Jacinto, Yucaipa, Hesperia and Apple Valley.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were also issued for Hemet, Menifee, Perris, Beaumont, Calimesa and other areas.

All of the warnings expired by the evening.

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