Lifeguards warn beachgoers to take shelter as lightning moves in

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File Photo (Courtesy George Cataulin)

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SAN DIEGO — Lightning danced, and rain doused both a South Bay sand castle contest and the Over The Line tournament, as heavy rain and thunderstorms rattled San Diego Saturday.

Lifeguards temporarily withdrew from their towers and warned beachgoers to take shelter. as moderate to heavy rain moved ashore along the city’s coast in the morning hours. Meteorologists said it was a thunderstorm cell that had
moved up from a decaying hurricane off Mexico.

The downpour affected the sand castle contest at the festival while the threat of lightning delayed the softball tournament by 30 minutes.

A spokesman for the tournament, Sonny Peterson, said he saw lightning strike close to the tournament site.

Peterson said the OTL teams resumed play on Fiesta Island when it was safe. In the event of further delays, he planned to expedite the tournament’s schedule on Sunday and, if needed, Monday.

The National Weather Service warned lifeguards that a “life threatening” storm cell was seen just south of Point Loma, and was headed in a northeastern direction at 10:30 a.m, lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky said.

Lifeguards confirmed the system’s close proximity and Stropky issued Threat Level 3, which called all on-duty lifeguards to take shelter at headquarters.

Stropky said the beach was not shut down but his team warned beachgoers.

“We notified the public of the imminent threat,” he said. “We highly recommend that they leave the area and seek shelter in buildings, away from metal.”

Thunderstorms and lightning hit various cities in San Diego County earlier Saturday and the NWS expected conditions to continue for the next couple of days, mostly in the desert and mountain regions.

According to the NWS, remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores, which is about 500 miles west of Cabo San Lucas, brought moisture and storm clouds to the county.

Although the service expected high surf and strong southern currents, Stropky said the waters were calm and there was no wind.

The weather was predicted to clear by Tuesday.

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