SAN DIEGO -- Intense summer thunderstorms rolled through the San Diego area Tuesday, letting loose with some heavy downpours, putting on lightning displays that sparked a spate of small brush fires and prompting authorities to clear swimmers and surfers out of the ocean.
The afternoon squalls resulted in hundreds of lightning strikes in the county, according to the National Weather Service. The electrical activity caused no reported injuries but set patches of vegetation ablaze in fields and on hillsides in such areas as Campo, Poway and Vista.
The conditions, generated by monsoonal moisture out of Mexico, extended from the deserts to the coast. In the mid-afternoon, the threat of lightning strikes led lifeguards in San Diego, Coronado and other locales to direct beachgoers out of the surf until the storm passed.
Krissy Perrine of Rainbow was taking video of the storm from inside her house when a lightning bolt struck the ground and shocked her.
"It shocked me, electrically not emotionally, but didn't burn," Perrine told FOX5. "It was crazy up here. Thought there was a tornado as the wind was so bad."
"It was pretty intense for a while here,'' NWS meteorologist James Thomas said.
As of 3 p.m., the bands of clouds had dropped 0.64 of an inch of rain in Tierra del Sol, 0.59 in Campo, 0.35 in Descanso, 0.32 in Barona, 0.22 in Ramona, 0.15 in Rainbow, 0.12 in Rancho Bernardo and 0.06 in Alpine.
By late afternoon, the unsettled atmospheric system was moving out of the region to the northwest, making way for clearing skies. The conditions, however, could return in a milder form early Wednesday, bringing scattered showers east of the inland valleys, Thomas said.
This week's toasty temperatures were expected to peak this afternoon in advance of a modest cooling trend that should continue into early next week, according to forecasters.