Lightning strike kills man at Venice Beach

July 28, 2014

lightningA surprise lightning strike during a summer thunderstorm killed a 20-year-old man at Venice Beach Sunday afternoon. [LA Times]

At least four lightning strikes hit the beachfront in Venice around 2:20 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. In addition to the one death, 13 other people suffered injuries, including a 55-year-old man who is in critical condition.

The lightning appeared during a 15-minute thunderstorm Sunday afternoon at the Southern California beach. More than 20,000 visitors were at Venice Beach during the storm.

Lightning from the same storm hit Catalina Island about 90 minutes earlier. A 57-year-old man suffered an injury on a golf course in Avalon as a result of the lightning strike.

The chances of a person getting struck by lightning in California are 1 in 7.5 million, said Bill Patzert a NASA climatologist. The likelihood of getting hit by lightning on the West Coast is significantly lower than in the rest of the country.

Patzert said a high-pressure system pulled an unusual mass of hot and moist air from Mexico and the Gulf of California to coastal areas Sunday, causing the atmospheric conditions that produced the lightning.

“This was a sneak attack,” Patzert said. “Coastal Southern California is virtually lightning proof.”