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It seems like an everyday occurrence when a historical weather event shocks the hell out of the average person. All of a sudden, climate change becomes a reality. On Wednesday an estimated 66,000 lightning strikes pounded Los Angeles and the surrounding area for what seemed like hours. At least 208 of these strikes hit the ground. Heavy rains, powerful winds, hail, thunder, and lightning pummeled the Los Angeles basin relentlessly. It was discovered that the first death from a lightning strike in 2022 was recorded in Pico Rivera.
Antonia Mendoza Chavez was identified Thursday as the 52-year-old who was killed by a lightning strike while walking her dogs in the suburb of Pico Rivera on Wednesday. The two dogs, Luna and Chubby, were also killed in the freak strike. Surveillance videos revealed Chavez walking along a path near the San Gabriel River.
The cells of rain and storms were scattered, hitting such areas as Long Beach, downtown L.A., Glendale, the western San Gabriel Valley, and the Antelope Valley, the latter of which was under a flood advisory for about two hours Wednesday afternoon.
The Los Angeles Area averages 284 days of sunny weather, and 33.7 days of precipitation, with an accumulation of 15.5 inches of rainfall. Having grown up in the West Los Angeles area, it doesn’t surprise me that the warmest three months are between July 1 and September 30, with an average temperature of 81 degrees. The warmest days are in August, averaging 84 degrees.
I remember running for cover from large hailstones. However, I never experienced anything close to the barrage of lightning and related effects of a thunderstorm such as those which happened on Wednesday.
The areas of our country noted for heaviest rainfall and thunderstorms are Florida and along the Gulf Coast, including the cities of Houston Texas, New Orleans Louisiana, and the Florida cities of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Miami has the most frequent storms of this type annually.
Miami and New Orleans top the list of US cities that tolerate the greatest number of major rainstorms a year. These cities average over 20 days annually when an inch or more of rain pelts down.
What happened in Los Angeles is a perfect example of great changes in the world’s storm patterns. Over the last decade, Europe has suffered from extreme heat and flooding throughout western Europe. Asia suffered from devastating tsunamis. Across America droughts have been common, and in the Midwest, tornadoes have become more frequent and more powerful, and snowstorms heavier, lasting for longer periods of time. Climatologists and meteorologists are forecasting large hurricanes along the Gulf Coast this year. The temperature of the Gulf has risen and continues to rise more than 100 feet below the surface. As the polar ice cap continues to melt, the Atlantic Ocean is rising and capturing more shorelines every year.
For years climate change deniers discounted the facts based on the situation’s first accurate but misleading label of “global warming.” These politicians and corporate leaders used the word “warming” to mislead the American people, as the side effect of blizzards and freezing temperatures devasted the northeast.
Climate change is affecting all weather patterns in every part of the planet. Although deniers reject the facts, this phenomenon is clearly the result of man’s excessive use of fossil fuels.
California is facing devastating droughts this summer. Farmers in the central valleys, which produce the majority of fruits and vegetables for the west, are already struggling to find sufficient water for their crops.
The storm which assaulted the Los Angeles area Wednesday will offer no relief from the situation. Only a steady rainfall that would fill the reservoirs, streams, and rivers will bring normalcy to the region.
Op-ed by James Turnage
The Daily Beast: California Mom and Her Two Dogs Killed by Freak Lightning Strike
LA Times: Lightning kills woman, 2 dogs as thunderstorms pound Southern California
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