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Summer Storm Brings Thunder, Lightning To San Diego County


More than 500 lightning strikes hit San Diego area Wednesday morning

A summer storm brought heavy rain and hail to parts of San Diego County on Wednesday, generating flash-flood warnings and unusual coastal lightning that prompted a temporary closure of beaches from Del Mar to Point Loma.

A line of thunderstorms moving over south and central San Diego County around 7:30 a.m. upped the risk for ground and ocean lightning strikes, according to the National Weather Service.

As the unsettled atmospheric conditions continued to intensify, San Diego closed all of its beaches to the public at 9:30 a.m., said San Diego fire spokesman Lee Swanson. The closure was lifted an hour later, after the weather service advised that the imminent lightning hazards had abated.

Such conditions along the local coastline are rare, Swanson said.

As of 11 a.m., the weather service had tallied 561 ground lightning strikes in the San Diego area and 871 for "extreme southwest California," including over the ocean.

Beaches south of Oceanside were the most susceptible, forecasters said, but thunderstorms could also be possible along the ocean shoreline in the North County. People in those areas were advised to move indoors until storms passed and to avoid metal objects.

The lightning and hail also prompted authorities to issue an airport weather warning for Lindbergh Field, effective until 12:15 p.m. The warning was canceled at 11:58 a.m. because thunderstorms are no longer a threat, the National Weather Service said.

A flash flood watch also was in effect for the valleys, mountains and deserts through 9 p.m. Moderate to heavy rainfall could occur in some of the thunderstorms, weather service forecaster Michael Watkins said.

Wednesday's stormy weather began the night before, with a quarter to a half inch of rain falling around Camp Pendleton and Fallbrook, Watkins said.

Scattered thunderstorms are expected to continue Thursday, he said.