A rare, 15-minute lightning storm hit Venice Beach yesterday, killing a 20-year-old man and sending a dozen others to the hospital.
Authorities say the same storm hit Catalina Island about 90 minutes before Venice Beach, injuring one golfer and starting a pair of bush fires.
Witnesses said that the storm was so explosive that it shook homes and set off car alarms.
Bill Patzert, a climatologist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Labratory, told the L.A. Times that storms of this type are extremely rare.
According to the L.A. Times, an intense high-pressure system pulled an unusual mass of hot and moist air from Mexico and the Gulf of California to the coastal areas, creating the unstable atmospheric conditions that produced the lightning.
"This was a sneak attack that took everybody by surprise," Patzert said. "Coastal Southern California is virtually lightning-proof. Because it's so unusual, people are not sensitized to the dangers."
The storm is a solemn reminder to cruisers and those who spend extensive time on that water need to be ever aware of changing weather conditions.
Florida, the nation's "lightning champion" boasts the highest chances of people being struck by lightning, with odds of 1 in 600,000 compared to California's odds of 1 in 7.5 million.
With severe storms existing throughout the U.S., the National Weather Service is urging boaters and beach goers to stay aware of the weather and, "when thunder roars, go indoors."