Wait, is that rain? Rogue showers pop up during L.A. heat wave

Clouds cover the sun above a palm tree.
Clouds brought some isolated light showers Thursday morning to Orange County, then the San Gabriel Valley.
(Hayley Smith / Los Angeles Times)

Amid a blistering heat wave and statewide energy Flex Alert, some parts of Los Angeles on Thursday morning saw an unexpected spot of rain.

Gray clouds darkened northeast L.A. around 9 a.m., with reports of thunder and raindrops spanning from Atwater Village to El Monte.

The National Weather Service said the isolated showers developed over Orange County on Thursday morning and moved into the San Gabriel Valley. The system eventually will head over the mountains.


Brief moderate showers and isolated lightning are possible, the agency said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Wofford said it was an isolated event that should dissipate within a couple of hours. The system developed from wind and moisture moving up from the Southeast, he said.

“There’s always a chance that a little tiny cell could develop, and that’s kind of what happened this morning,” he said. “It’s nothing organized or widespread. It’s kind of a rogue shower.”

Former Times columnist Chris Erskine captured a photo of the droplets on the pavement in La Cañada-Flintridge.

“If refrigerators fell from the sky I would not be more shocked,” he said on Twitter.

Erskine said the rain appeared around 9:30 a.m. and was on and off for about an hour, with “big drops, rattling the bushes and trees, like we haven’t heard since probably January.” By 10:30 a.m., the sky was already beginning to clear.


The rain arrived as parts of Southern California head into the fourth straight day of triple-digit temperatures — and as the West grapples with a worsening drought.

The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the electrical grid for most of the state, issued a Flex Alert asking residents to conserve energy from 5 to 10 p.m.

Unfortunately, the rain — while welcome — won’t be enough to turn the tide of hot, dry weather.

“It’s kind of a rogue shower,” Wofford said. “It’s not indicative of any major change in the pattern or anything that will be ending the drought.”