Environment & Science

Lifeguards on alert for possible thunderstorms at Southern California beaches this weekend

Lifeguards will be on alert this weekend for predicted thunderstorms.
Lifeguards will be on alert this weekend for predicted thunderstorms.
LenazPic via Flickr Creative Commons

With thunderstorms forecast in Southern California this weekend, lifeguards are taking extra precautions to keep beachgoers safe. 

"You want to avoid any outside areas," Los Angeles County Lifeguard Spokesman AJ Lester says. "You don't want to be outside when you hear thunder or you see lightning."

Lifeguards will be making sure beaches are clear if lightning makes an appearance — even if it's far away. After a man died when he was unexpectedly struck by lightning on a sunny day at Venice Beach last summer, lifeguards reviewed their policy and found that lightning can go 10 miles sideways. An off-duty lifeguard was also struck that day, while dozens of others were injured. 

"We felt the effects of that. It was a really sad day that we lost someone, and that some of our lifeguards got affected as well," Lester says. Now lifeguards will be clearing beaches if they see lightning 10 miles inland. They say that evacuating beachgoers from the shore is their first priority. 

Preparations include boats being on the water and trucks driving back and forth to make sure people are safe. They say that what is most important during storms is the public's cooperation.

"We just ask that the public listen to what we have to say," Lester says. "Think about the lives that have been lost in the past ... and try to listen to our warnings."

He suggested people do the following if they see lightning in any outdoor area:

Lifeguards say they will also be in contact with the National Weather Service for any updates. If they hear of a chance of thunderstorms and see any lightning or hear any thunder, they're going to clear beaches, Lester says. 

"We've trained for this, this is what we d0 ... this is what we live for," Lester says.