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Climate and Environment

Monsoonal Storms Expected In Parts Of LA County

Cars drive on a rainy stretch of I-5 in Los Angeles.
It's monsoon season, and warnings are in place for storms in parts of the county Wednesday night.
(Richard Vogel
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The National Weather Service is predicting monsoonal storms Wednesday night for the Antelope Valley and over the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains.

We talked to Kristen Stewart, a NWS meteorologist, about the conditions we're seeing. Yes, they are normal for this time of year.

"This is a typical monsoonal flow," she said, explaining that high pressure builds over the Southwest U.S. and that pushes warm moisture from Gulf of California into Southern California and Arizona.

"And then there's instability in the atmosphere as well, and that can lead to thunderstorms," Stewart said.

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This morning brought a report of a waterspout — a tornado over the ocean — between the Orange County coast and Catalina.

Here's what that looked like on radar:

Those conditions prompted a predawn warning to seek safe harbor because high winds and steep waves were also possible.

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A good way to get tipped off to hazardous weather conditions is the Wireless Emergency Alert System. Through this service, you can get tornado, flash flood, and other severe weather warnings directly to your cell phone.

He says most phone service providers have these alerts set to receive by default on the phones they sell, said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Alerts should be automatic, and localized, so don't just swipe away the notification when it starts blaring at you.

"It will alert based on the geographical area, so if you're in the warning area, your cell phone should do that alert," said Gregoria.

You can also find a list of all weather warnings on

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One note: Although rains is welcome (we are in drought conditions), lightning strikes can also start fires. That's what happened this week in the Big Bear area, where fortunately firefighters were able to handle the fires quickly.

What questions do you have about Southern California?