SoCal's Six-Month Dry Spell Ends With a Storm Bringing Rain, Hail and Lightning

After a few locations neared record highs early this week, temperatures will plummet by about 30 degrees in some areas

What to Know

  • Rain moved into Southern California late Tuesday and continues through early Thursday.
  • After a few locations get close to record highs early this week, temperatures will plummet by about 30 degrees.
  • Dry conditions and warmer temperatures are in Friday's forecast.

The first storm of the season brought scattered showers, hail and lightning to parts of Southern California Wednesday morning, marking the end to the region's six-month dry spell. 

The first rainfall of the season -- and the first measurable rain since May -- arrived Tuesday evening and continued into Wedensday as two storm systems converged on Southern California.

The systems also brought lightning to the area. Anyone on Santa Monica Pier and nearby beaches was asked to seek shelter due to reports of lightning along the coast, fire department said Wednesday morning. Evacuations also were ordered for Venice and Will Rogers beaches because of lightning, and at Seal Beach in Orange County.

Less than an inch of rain was expected in Los Angeles County, but it will be enough to make for a wet morning drive on Wednesday. Scattered showers are expected through early Thursday. 

That means drivers will likely face two tough commutes. 

"This is the first rain of the season," said NBC4 forecaster Shanna Mendiola.  "It's going to be pick up all that oil and make it difficult to drive." 

About an inch of rain is possible in Orange County and the Inland Empire. Expect less in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

It's not a lot, but it is Southern California's first measurable rainfall in about six months. The region's last measurable rainfall was May 26, 2019, and that was just .04 inches.

"It just shows you how dry Southern California has been," said Mendiola. "It's been a long time, and we're finally going to get our first rain of the season."

Thunderstorms hit some areas, with Newschopper4 Alpha capturing a lightning strike in the Glendale area Tuesday evening. Showers and a thunderstorm moved over parts of the Riverside County mountains early Tuesday afternoon. That system slowly moved to the northeast.

More than 81 percent of California, including all of Southern California, is considered abnormally dry, according to the US Drought Monitor. About 4 percent of the state, mostly in the extreme southeast, is in moderate drought.

One year ago, all of California was considered abnormally dry. About 54 percent of the state was in moderate drought, one of five drought monitor categories ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional.

The weather system also will bring a dramatic drop in temperatures. After a few locations get close to record highs early this week, temperatures will plummet by about 30 degrees in some areas. Highs will be in the 60s for lower elevations, and temperatures in the mountains will be cold enough for the first snow accumulations of the season.

"This system will feature some cold air," NBC4 meteorologist David Biggar said. "Snow levels may drop below 5,500 feet, but most of the accumulating snowfall will be above 6,000 feet." 

Biggar added, "We may see a few inches of snow around Big Bear by the time that the system moves out on Thursday. We could see more than 3-6 inches of snow above 7,000 feet."

Dry conditions are expected by Friday.

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