Storm Surprises Central Coast with Thunder and Lightning Show

Santa Barbara Residents Look to Sky to Catch Monday’s Sunset Thunderstorm

Credit: Mike Eliason

Southern California was rocked by thunderstorms up and down the coast Monday, and here in Santa Barbara, a rumble of thunder and the sudden appearance of a rainbow unleashed a surprise show in the South Coast skies, sending residents scrambling with cell phone cameras and photography equipment to windows, hillsides, and beaches to catch a glimpse of the show.

According to the National Weather Service, the cluster of storms was registered northeast of Santa Barbara Island around 6:24 p.m., and a warning for the eastern Santa Barbara Channel was in effect through 7:30 p.m. as the line of thunderstorms blew through the region from Point Conception to Point Mugu.

Credit: Mike Eliason

Lightning storms delayed the start of the Monday Night Football game in Los Angeles in the hours before the system moved north through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Santa Barbara’s South County experienced the most heavy rainfall, while North County and mountain areas reported thunder and scattered showers.

Though the NWS reported the storms were capable of “frequent lightning, gusty erratic winds, and water spouts,” much of the county experienced intermittent rainfall of a couple hundredths of an inch. 

The rare appearance of rain, along with the spectacular show of lightning and roaring thunder, sent many residents looking to the sky to watch the storms. Photos of rainbows, heavy clouds, and curtains of rain backdropped by choppy seas and braids of purple, orange, and yellow in the sky flooded social media Monday night as people braved the wet weather to snap a rare sunset lightning storm photo.

The lightning and thunder continued into the night along with light rainfall, but the worst of the stormy weather has since subsided, though weather services expect patches of cloud cover in the next few days.


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