Lightning closes Venice Beach for 100 minutes


Updated Saturday, July 18 – 12:45 p.m.

Venice Beach was among beaches from Redondo to Zuma that were closed for 100 minutes by lifeguards today, when lightning flashed and unusual summer clouds dropped scattered heavy rain, a gift from a dying Mexican hurricane.

Heavy rain fell during the 8 a.m. hour, as subtropical storm clouds from Tropical Depression Dolores wafted northward from Mexico, meteorologists said.

Lightning and thunder was widespread, and morning freeway traffic slowed to 20 miles per hour in heavy rain on Interstate 10 in the Inland Empire.

“Please take the advice of lifeguards on the beach and seek safe shelter indoors,” begged Los Angeles County lifeguards, using all capital letters on the word “please” in their Twitter message.

“If you are unable to get into a building with four walls and a roof for cover, get into your car!” the lifeguards exhorted. “Do not get into ocean.”

Beaches were closed from 8:10 to 9:50 a.m.

The stern warnings came following the death of one surfer and hospitalization of seven others last summer, when a “bolt from the blue” lightning strike hit the Venice Pier and electrified both it and the surrounding ocean.

Thunder echoed across the L.A. Basin during the 8 a.m. hour, an unusual summertime occurrence in an area where the relatively cool and stable ocean air flow usually puts a damper on thunderstorms, meteorologists said.

Lighting storms and scattered rain, left over from onetime-Hurricane Dolores, was expected to move northeast through Southern California at 20 miles per hour today. Scattered rain could be heavy, the NWS warned, with up to one half inch possible in some localized spots.

It will be warm and humid, forecasters said.