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Weather change surprises some residents and possibly starts brief fire

A lightning-quick storm

Posted: August 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Children make their way to a waiting bus as heavy rain and a thunderstorm roll through the Castaic Lake Recreation Area on Friday.

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Lightning stabbed at and thunder rattled much of the Santa Clarita Valley on Friday, to the delight of many residents. Isolated thunderstorms may have ignited and then doused a brief brush fire near Castaic Junction.

“We thought it was really exciting,” Connie Wiens, a 36-year-old Santa Clarita Valley resident, said of Friday’s thunderstorms. Wiens said she sat by the window with her two kids during lunch to watch the lightning and wait to hear the thunder.

The low-pressure system that drew moist, unstable air into the Santa Clarita Valley could continue into today, said Bonnie Bartling, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service.

“It’s not widespread,” Bartling said, referring to the thunderstorms. “Maybe a mile away you won’t see it.”

Such was the case Friday afternoon, as rain poured down in Castaic, Saugus and Valencia around 1:30 p.m. while light rain fell in Sand Canyon, and Newhall remained dry.

Beachgoers at Castaic Lake were caught off guard, bundling sopping wet towels, ice chests and children into their arms and fleeing for their cars.

A brush fire broke out north of Highway 126 and San Martinez Grande Canyon Road near Castaic Junction shortly before 2:20 p.m. and blackened about an acre and a half before the rain extinguished it.

The fire may have been started by lightning, a county Fire Department official said.

Measurable precipitation recorded by National Weather Service sensors showed less-than-spectacular rainfall totals, with .01 of an inch recorded in the Newhall Pass and .02 of an inch in Saugus.

But many residents welcomed the respite from the heat.

“I love this weather because it’s really different,” said Liz Curry, of the Santa Clarita Valley. “It reminds me of Virginia, where I’m from.”

Curry said the thunderstorm was unusual weather for August, but she enjoyed the adventure of trekking out in the rain.

While today may feature another thunderstorm, by Sunday a high-pressure system moving into the area will bring in higher temperatures and dryer conditions.

Sunday temperatures will reach 95 degrees, with temperatures climbing to 100 degrees for Monday and 102 degrees for Tuesday, weather forecasters said.

Sunny skies and clear nights are expected.

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