Rain falls behind power lines near Adelanto at the end of a scorching hot day, 31 August 2017. Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

By Joseph Serna
1 September 2017

(The Los Angeles Times) – The heat wave that has gripped California for a week took a dramatic turn Thursday as lightning storms sparked brush fires, knocked out power to thousands and caused downpours across the region.

Forecasters said the extreme weather will continue through the weekend, with some parts of Northern California flirting with all-time record high temperatures.

Lightning strikes were reported in many areas Thursday, with some sparking a series of brush fires near the 5 Freeway in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In Santa Monica on Thursday evening, city officials asked beachgoers to immediately evacuate all ocean areas and seek cover until the storm ended.

Intense storm cells danced around the region, delivering bursts of heavy rain through the evening.

Residents in Colton lost power Thursday after lightning hit a power substation.

Meanwhile, the record heat continued to tax the power grid.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers used more electricity on Thursday battling the heat wave than has ever been used in the agency’s history, DWP officials announced. Customers hit a peak demand of 6,502 megawatts at 4:15 p.m., shattering the previous record of 6,396 megawatts on Sept. 16, 2014. The agency expects a new record to be set Friday as the heat wave continues. […]

According to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, the heat this weekend may reach levels never before seen in recorded history in some Northern California cities. Sacramento, no stranger to warm summer days, could see a week of 100-degree heat. That’s never happened there in September, the National Weather Service said.

It could be just as brutal in the coastal valley city of Livermore, where the hottest temperature on record is 115 degrees, said Steve Anderson of the National Weather Service. It’s expected to hit 113 degrees there on Friday and 114 degrees on Saturday.

“When we’re approaching all-time record highs, that’s very unusual,” Anderson said. [more]

Record heat, lightning, fires, intense rain: California's extreme weather gets wilder

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