A band of thunderstorms that stretched from southern Kern County past the Channel Islands was producing a dramatic lightning show Tuesday night in the Southern California sky.
In one five-minute stretch alone, shortly after 8 p.m., the National Weather Service recorded 1,489 pulses of lightning off the coast, 231 over Santa Barbara County and 40 in Los Angeles County, said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the weather service in Oxnard.
“It’s a lot,” she said. “We usually don’t get that.”
Those numbers appeared to taper off later Tuesday evening. The storms were expected to move into Ventura and Los Angeles counties overnight.
“There’s no guarantee that they’ll hold together, but it looks pretty good right now,” Hoxsie said.
People wanting to catch a glimpse of the show should do so from indoors, Hoxsie said, noting that lightning can strike 10 or 12 miles away from a storm. Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials decided to land a department helicopter because of the extreme weather.
A Delta flight to Seattle returned to Los Angeles International Airport after getting struck by lightning, said Los Angeles Airport Police Officer Rob Pedregon. No injuries were reported.
Later in the evening, a lightning strike caused a brief power outage at three terminals, said LAX spokesman Charles Pannunzio.
“It is dangerous for people to go outside and watch the lightning,” Hoxsie said. “People think they’re safe because it’s not on top of where they’re standing, but that’s not accurate.”
Here are some of the striking images captured during Tuesday’s lightning show:
Lightning strikes have started tree fires, blown out a power converter and possibly started a small fire of SE 154 as a powerful #storm bears down on the South Coast. At 7:34 p.m. a major strike caused power in #SantaBarbara to got out briefly. (Scott Steepleton photo) #cawx pic.twitter.com/KgNdoh7dsS— S.B. News-Press (@sbnpnews) March 6, 2019
The lightning is giving way to a rainy day across Southern California, with showers continuing though Friday morning.