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Thunderstorms prompt temporary closures of Orange County’s coastline

A woman holds onto her cap as heavy winds blow in from the coast.
A woman holds onto her cap as heavy winds blow in from the coast at Newport Pier. Newport Beach beaches were temporarily closed Wednesday morning due to a brief thunderstorm in Orange County.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

As thunder rumbled and lightning struck in parts of Orange County Wednesday morning, coastal cities called for temporary beach closures until the storms moved on.

Beaches from Newport Pier to Corona del Mar reopened by 10:45 a.m., though city officials cautioned that the weather could change.

In neighboring Laguna Beach, an 8:45 a.m. announcement about the closure of that city’s beaches was rescinded after the storm passed.

The same was true in Huntington Beach, which reopened its beaches at 11:15 a.m. based on weather advisories and the observation of lifeguards.

The scattered storms Wednesday were the result of monsoonal moisture moving across Southern California.

Beach-goers enjoy several swells as they play in the ocean.
Beachgoers enjoy several swells as they play in the ocean on the north side of Newport Pier.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The National Weather Service reported the monsoonal pattern arrived around noon on Tuesday, which brought the rain and thunderstorms to the region Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The agency issued special weather notices for parts of Southern California throughout the day, including warnings for hail and strong winds.

Meteorologist Tyler Salas said there was some rain toward Long Beach and lightning in coastal cities like Seal Beach and Laguna Beach but noted that the amount of rain produced by storms passing through the area was less than a tenth of an inch because the storms were moving at an estimated 30 miles an hour.

Salas said the risk for potential fire was low but not zero.

“The general consensus around here is that there is ample moisture from the south here that would preclude a higher fire risk,” said Salas, who added that meteorologists are more concerned about the fire risk in Central California, where the Fresno Bee reported a wildfire sparked by lightning strikes early Wednesday. The flames have been contained and evacuation orders were lifted.

Still, “There’s always a chance of dry lightning strikes,” Salas said.

A green flag posted on a lifeguard tower indicates light conditions.
A green flag posted on a lifeguard tower indicates light conditions on the north side of Newport Pier.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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