"I woke up in the middle of the night because it was so bright, it was just sheets of purple-violet lightning," said Gina Destres. "I opened a window, looked out, and it was really quite special."
The National Weather Service says three storms formed Thursday night between Catalina and the Palos Verdes peninsula and then moved to the coast over Malibu, bringing thunder and spectacular streaks of lightning.
"I didn't know what it was at first and then just lots of flashes," Penny Griffiths. "I stayed up watching it for a while. That was it really, it was a bit unexpected."
The NWS reported nearly 450 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes from midnight to 3 a.m. in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Planes could be seen flying through the air with the lightning flashes in the background.
"I was heading out on the 10 Freeway out to West L.A. from Mira Loma, and on the way out I saw a lot of lightning on the western side of the sky towards LAX," said Larry Guzman. "It was coming down pretty heavy."
Some longtime L.A. residents say they've never seen any like it.
"It looked like a fireworks display, you know what I mean," said Marquis Dair. "I've never seen nothing like this, you know. Being from L.A. I'm not used to this kind of stuff, you know, but it was beautiful. It was awesome."
There were no injuries or any damage reported from the lightning.