Lightning closes LA County beaches, causes blackouts as rainstorm sweeps over Long Beach region

All Los Angeles County and Long Beach beaches were closed Monday afternoon because of a lightning storm along the coast that drenched the area and knocked out the power for 1,800 residents in a rare but brief shower.

The thunderstorm hit Long Beach at about 4:30 p.m., briefly dumping rain on the city while moving north, according to the National Weather Service. Lightning and thunder could be seen and heard over the city in the afternoon as the storm passed over.

The storm also appears to have caused some problems. In one case, a fire engulfed several trees next to a home in East Long Beach on the 5200 block of Spring Street just before 5 p.m.

“Several people called 911 stating that they saw lightning strike a tree,” Long Beach Fire Department Capt. Jack Crabtree said.

Flames spread from the tree to the outside of the house, but the inside was undamaged, and no injuries were reported, he said.

About 20 firefighters quickly knocked down the fire, Crabtree said.

Long Beach Fire Department crews at the scene of a fire at the corner of Rutgers Avenue and Spring Street on Monday afternoon. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Long Beach Fire Department crews at the scene of a fire at the corner of Rutgers Avenue and Spring Street Monday afternoon. Photo by Stephen Carr.

At around 5:30 p.m., more than 1,800 SoCal Edison customers lost power in the West Long Beach area, according to SCE spokesperson Ben Gallagher.

The affected perimeter extended from north to Willow Street, east to Fashion Avenue, west to Merrimac and Webster avenues and south to Pacific Coast Highway, Gallagher said.

While it’s unclear when power will return in the area, crews are on scene and there are currently 1,113 customers still affected by the outage, Gallagher said.

“It’s likely the results of the lightning, thunder, rain,” he said.

After days of above-normal heat, a low-pressure system moved into the Southland today, bringing driving the rain to some areas along with booming thunder and lightning strikes.

The National Weather Service initially warned of a band of storms moving over the ocean toward Catalina Island. But by late afternoon, clouds darkened the skies over much of the Southland.

Storms began by dropping heavy rain near the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, spreading inland.

NWS forecasters said the chance of thunderstorms would continue through late Monday night.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information on a fire incident and power outage. 

Staff reporter Crystal Niebla contributed to this report.

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