Lightning Prompts Closures, Evacuations of Some L.A. County and O.C. Beaches

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Several beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties were closed or evacuated Thursday due to the threat of lightning as the first of several forecast storms moved through Southern California, officials said.

The first closure -- Zuma Beach in Malibu -- was announced just before 9 a.m.

A short time later, the National Weather Service warned that additional lightning was possible over the next few hours along the beach.

By 9:35 a.m., Santa Monica police announced evacuations at all beach area due to an electrical storm moving through the area. Those on the beach or Santa Monica Pier were urged to head indoors until the storm passed.

As the storm continued to move down the coastline, the beaches and piers in Hermosa Beach and Seal Beach were also shut down.

The Seal Beach Pier has since been reopened.

“For us, if we don’t have lightning strikes in a 10-mile radius within 30 minutes, we are clear to reopen," Said Lt. Pierce of Seal Beach Marine Safety.

It was not immediately clear how long the other closures would be in effect.

Additional beach closures were possible "depending on storm activity and direction," according to a statement from the city of Malibu. Authorities were monitoring other beaches in Los Angeles County, including Venice, Will Rogers, Malibu, Dockweiler and Manhattan Beach.

With a series of storms forecast to hit the region between Thursday and Monday, authorities are urging people to stay from all beaches until the thunderstorms pass.

"When Thunder Roars, Stay Indoors," the weather service tweeted.

There are other concerns, however, beyond lightning.

Parts of Malibu were also placed under a flash flood watch from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. amid fears of mudslides and debris flows in the Woolsey Fire burn area. The storm is expected to pass through the area late Thursday morning into the early afternoon, according to the city.

Rain rates are expected to peak at a possible 3/4 inches per hour.

The city noted that homes in recently burned areas are especially at risk for flash flooding and debris flows.

“The big concerns of course with the vastly inundated areas as a result of the Woolsey Fire is any mudslides coming down. So everybody who is out there needs to be very wary," Malibu City Councilman Rick Mullen said.

The bottom line, according to Mullen: “Don’t go out if you don’t need to.”

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