Latest Winter Downpour Brings Record Rainfall to Downtown L.A.

With rain still coming down, a record amount had fallen in downtown Los Angeles by Wednesday afternoon as a powerful storm rolled through Southern California.

Around 1.24 inches of rain was recorded downtown by 5:45 p.m., breaking the previous record for March 6 of .88 inches set in 1884, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service.

Continued showers throughout the evening were likely to push the total a bit higher, the agency said. The highest amount of rainfall ever recorded in downtown L.A. is 5.88 inches on March 2, 1938, NWS meteorologist Kristen Stewart said.

Downtown Los Angeles is nearing 17 inches of rain so far this "water year," which begins Oct. 1. That's more than 5 inches above normal for March 6, and there's more rain in the near- and long-term forecasts.

On average, downtown L.A. gets just 14.77 inches total precipitation in an entire year.

On Tuesday night, the region was hit with spectacular lightning and thunderclaps in one of the most electric storm systems of the winter.

The storm is the latest atmospheric river to flow into California this winter. NWS reported "copious" lightning strikes as the long plume of Pacific moisture approached the coast on Tuesday.

By night, the sky over Southern California was streaked with bolts as thunder banged and rattled across the region. The weather service said it was "one of the more electrically active systems" seen all winter.

"It was just thrilling. We were amazed," said Jennifer Kennedy of Santa Monica, who was driving with her son near Los Angeles International Airport when the skies opened up.

"We started to see some really huge lightning strikes out over the water," she said. "We wondered if it would affect flight operations at the airport."

Delta Air Lines Flight 2432 returned to LAX "out of an abundance of caution" after encountering lightning Tuesday, the airline said. The 110 passengers were put aboard another flight to Seattle, a statement said, noting that airliners are designed to withstand lightning.

Numerous traffic accidents, localized street flooding and canyon rock falls snarled the Los Angeles region's Wednesday morning rush hour, but conditions were diminishing to showers as the storm moved east.

With just two weeks left in the season, California is flush with water and a vital snowpack that's significantly above normal, and drought and abnormal dryness have been pushed to the fringes of the state.

Snow continued to fall in the Sierra Nevada, where winter storm warnings were to remain in effect for high elevations until early Thursday. The Mammoth Mountain ski resort reported more than 51 feet of snow on its summit so far this season.

KTLA's Erika Martin and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.