Officials Warn Coastal SoCal Residents to Stay Indoors as Thunderstorm Passes Through Area

A lightning storm dropping heavy rain was passing through Los Angeles and Orange counties as it headed north late Friday evening, and officials were urging residents to stay indoors.

The strong storm was approaching the South Bay around 7:40 p.m. and expected to bring flooding, frequent lightning, small hail and gusty winds of up to 40 mph, the National Weather Service said.

By about 8 p.m., 0.33 inches of rain had fallen in 15 minutes at Hillcrest Country Club in Cheviot Hills, the weather service said.

The agency issued a significant weather advisory that was in effect through 10:45 p.m.

The storm put on quiet the show for rain-starved Southern California. Mike McDonough, who was visiting Huntington Beach Friday, described it as "tremendous."

"Horizontal, vertical, hitting the ocean at different angles, very bright, intense — it was everything you would expect in an awesome lightning storm," he told KTLA. "You'd think you were in southeast Florida witnessing this tonight."

The storm was perhaps even more shocking for locals. Douglas Erber, who grew up in Huntington Beach, said he's "never seen anything like this."

"This is something you see in Indonesia or Mexico City, so it was pretty exciting and I was glad our kids weren't too worried about it."

One teen who was on the beach with his friends when the storm hit said he felt like a fish out of water.

"It's just so scary, because I'm not used to this," he said. "I'm a local around here and it's just like — I don't even understand."

The storm knocked out power for about 10,000 L.A. Department of Water and Power customers, including in Arlington Heights, Beverly Grove, Mid-City and Brentwood, the agency said.

"Our field crews are working hard to restore power as quickly and safely as possible," LAWDP said in a tweet.

In Los Alamitos, a lightning strike caused six to 10 palm trees to become engulfed in flames on the 4300 block of Farquhar Avenue, the Orange County Fire Authority said. Firefighters responded around 8:10 p.m., and remained on the scene two hours later, extinguishing hot spots.

Fire officials in Anaheim were also working to determine whether a blaze that broke out at Wholesome Foods, in the 5800 block East La Palma Avenue, was also caused by lightning. The fire has been put out and did not extend into the building's interior, authorities said.

Long Beach, Seal Beach, San Pedro and the Palos Verdes Peninsula were among those hit the hardest by the storm, NWS said.

In Huntington Beach, the lightning prompted city officials to close the pier and beach.

The weather system would next head north through Ventura County, officials said.