Deadly Lightning Strikes Venice Beach


The summer monsoon season continues to cause some problems out west, and the latest is a rare summertime thunderstorm that produced deadly lightning in Venice Beach, California yesterday. Moist flow out of the south usually only makes its way to the interior deserts and mountains of California, but yesterday the flow made it all the way to the coasts which resulted in numerous thunderstorms.

One man was killed and several others were injured as lightning impacted Venice Beach around 2:30 pm PST on Sunday. Another man was injured hours earlier while he was golfing on Catalina Island

Lightning is pretty rare in southern California. Including yesterday’s fatality, there have only been 8 lightning deaths in California during the last 10 years. Check out this map showing lightning frequency across the country. Venice Beach typically only sees a lightning strike per square mile once every four years.

h/t Brad Panovich @wxbrad

Monsoonal moisture flow will continue over southern California today, and more showers and thunderstorms are expected along the coast. Here is the latest water vapor imagery showing in increase in moisture across California.

Screenshot 2014-07-28 12.14.12
GOES Water Vapor Imagery valid at 11:30am CST (Courtesy: NOAA)

In fact, many portions of the desert southwest that have been dealing with lots of drought over the past several months are actually under flash flood watches today:

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Courtesy: National Weather Service

These are areas that need lots of water, but thunderstorms are not exactly a good thing. Soil moisture in this region is very low which means the ground can’t take up much water and any heavy rain can cause flash flooding. Additionally, lightning strikes can easily start wildfires in these dry areas.

The southwest continues to feel the impacts of the summer monsoon season and hopefully we don’t see any more problems from lightning as this pattern continues.