Stormy weather brings more than 3,000 lightning strikes and power outages to SoCal

Lightning flares from the clouds above the South Bay as a storm moves across the Los Angeles Basin.
Lightning flares from the clouds above the South Bay as a storm moves across the Los Angeles Basin on Monday night.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The lightning storm that descended on Southern California on Monday evening delivered more than 3,000 lightning strikes and left thousands of residents without power, officials said Tuesday.

The low-pressure system strengthened throughout Monday afternoon and into the night, dropping rain, hail and thunderous jolts as it moved northeast from the coastal waters off Baja and up through Southern California.

More than 14,000 residents across nine counties — including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino — were without power Tuesday morning, according to Southern California Edison spokeswoman Gabriela Ornelas.


“It was likely as a result of the weather,” Ornelas said. “We show that there are people affected ... in various areas where the storm passed by last night.”

Crews were working quickly to bring power back online, she said.

The pipeline failure caused roughly 130,000 gallons of oil to gush into the Catalina Channel, creating a slick that spanned about 8,320 acres — larger than the size of Santa Monica.

Oct. 4, 2021

Some areas of Los Angeles County recorded more than a quarter inch of rain, while parts of San Diego County saw more than an inch, the National Weather Service said.

But excitement about moisture in the drought-riddled region was hampered by reports of downed trees, tree fires and swelling tides that could affect cleanup efforts at the massive oil spill off the coast of Orange County.

Special weather alerts were issued throughout the area, with beaches from San Pedro to Malibu closed Monday night due to lightning. A lightning strike near SoFi Stadium delayed kickoff in the Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders game by about 30 minutes.


National Weather Service officials said 2,074 cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning strikes were detected over Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties. More than 1,000 strikes were detected over Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Residents took to social media to share images and videos of the storm, including hail at Disneyland and a tree fire in Newport Beach. Ivory Small, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego, said there was “marble-sized hail” in Escondido.

Meanwhile, strong wind gusts brought a large tree branch down onto the roof of a two-story apartment building in Calabasas, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No injuries were reported.

Video captured by OnScene.TV showed Mid-City neighborhoods with no lights and dead traffic signals between 9:30 p.m. and midnight. Several areas remained without power Tuesday morning, according to the Southern California Edison outage map.

The energetic storm will push into Arizona and Nevada on Tuesday, giving way to dry skies over much of the Southland, Small said.

“Down here in the L.A. Basin proper, it’s going to be a pretty nice day,” he added.

The oil likely will continue to encroach on Orange County beaches for the next few days, officials said.

Oct. 4, 2021

But the pleasantries may be short-lived as a new weather system is slated to move in from the west Thursday and into Friday.

It will deliver cooler temperatures and the potential for more rain across the region, Small said — noting that by Friday, temperatures will be in the upper 60s “just about everywhere.”

Of ongoing concern is the cleanup effort at the oil spill in Orange County, which garnered a state of emergency declaration from Gov. Gavin Newsom late Monday night.

Small said the new system on tap for later this week could create an increase in the surf and swell, which may pose a challenge for cleanup crews. The chance of rain will be strongest Friday.

“It would probably impact the oil that’s still remaining out there when the storm finally pushes in here Thursday night and into Friday,” he said. “It’s not a horrible impact, but it will probably be noticeable.”

Once the latest weather pattern passes, it will again give way to dry skies by the weekend, forecasters said.