Videos Show Rare Thunderstorms, Lightning Hitting Southern California

Southern California was lit up by a thunderstorm on Monday night, and social media is awash with footage of lightning strikes.

The energetic storm was captured on cameras across southern parts of the state, with videos showing show how bolts of lightning cut through the dark every few seconds or so.

Some footage shows the lightning forking across the sky, while other videos show clouds pulsing with blue light with the lightning obscured.

Southern California storm #lalightning pic.twitter.com/js8dP7q1GI

— Mollie McDowell (@mahlie) October 5, 2021

Southern California putting on quite the show #california #lightning #iPhone12Pro #socal pic.twitter.com/l5phID6QQJ

— CINIMA (@cinimamusic) October 5, 2021

One user, whose location on Twitter was set as the Californian city of Camarillo, said: "It's a huge deal to have a lightning storm where we are in Southern California!"

The storm was so energetic that it caused some problems. The L.A. County Fire Department advised residents to "seek shelter and remain inside" until the lightning activity stopped.

LIGHTNING | We are experiencing numerous lightning strikes across the greater Los Angeles area. For your safety, we advise residents to seek shelter and remain inside until this lightning activity subsides.

— L.A. County Fire Department (@LACoFDPIO) October 5, 2021

Meanwhile, lifeguards closed LA beaches and cleared the water of people due to the risks posed by lightning strikes.

The storm also caused some power outages. UC Irvine university tweeted that its power was reduced by the storm and that some facilities, including student housing, were relying on emergency power.

According to PowerOutage.US, which tracks live power outage data from utilities providers, California was facing more outages than any other U.S. state early on Tuesday morning.

A total of 101,132 outages were reported out of 12.7 million customers tracked in California on Tuesday morning ET. Most of these were from the counties of Ventura and Los Angeles. Nearly 10,000 have also been reported from San Diego.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Los Angeles released a graphic on its Twitter page warning of lightning on Monday along with "minimal rainfall."

There's a chance of showers/storms for L.A. and Ventura Co Mon afternoon-night. As is typical with this type of showers/storms, some areas will get rain and other spots will stay dry. Keep an eye on the radar to see if you are in the path, & plan outdoor work accordingly. #socal pic.twitter.com/2F0YjYVBMQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 3, 2021

It also warned of an increased fire ignition risk due to lightning strikes and dry fuels, and that such fires could spread with gusty winds.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, several brush fires have been reported by residents. It quoted San Diego sheriff's Lt. William Amavisca as saying there were "tons of fires right now, up and down the county." He added there was also at least one case of a house fire there.

Thunderstorms have been described as rare in Southern California. Jacqueline Bennett, a broadcast meteorologist, wrote for Spectrum News earlier this year that "moisture and instability are the fuel needed for thunderstorms and lift is the trigger to set it all off". However, SoCal storms tend to lack one or more of these ingredients, she said.

Still, this is not the first time California has experienced an energetic thunderstorm in recent years. In 2020, Northern California was hit by a summer storm that sparked dozens of wildfires due to more than 2,500 lightning strikes.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, described that 2020 storm on Twitter as "probably the most widespread and violent summer thunderstorm event in memory for Bay Area."

Lightning strike
A stock photo shows a lightning bolt in the sky. Parts of Southern California are currently facing power outages following a storm. y6uca/Getty