Dennis’ Local Almanac

By DENNIS McTIGHE

Record-breaking storms

Hope everyone had a good weekend as they prepared for the hammer to come down on Sunday evening (Feb. 4). This latest blast is every bit as strong as the last one from a few days ago, if not more powerful, and the heavy stuff may stick around up to Wednesday. The central pressure in this monster low, as it prepares to make landfall near the Bay Area, is 977 millibars which measures 28.80 inches on the aneroid barometer. That is comparable to a Category One hurricane’s strength. Winds as high as 90 mph could blow at higher elevations.

Here in Southern California, the storm’s arrival occurred after sunset with the heaviest conditions to last from the overnight hours and well into Monday morning – setting up a nightmare for morning commuters much like the last storm. Rainfall amounts in some areas of the greater Los Angeles area could exceed six months’ worth of rain in just three days – with totals approaching eight to 12 inches on some coastal facing slopes. thanks to severe orographic effects.

San Diego recorded its greatest one-day total from the last storm with 2.86 inches and that total was the most in one day ever. Here in town at 5 p.m. on Sunday, it began to rain, and the wind was out of the SE at 14 mph. Both the rain and the wind intensified as the evening progressed. A wind gust of 81 mph was observed in Carmel Valley on Sunday. Snowfall in the central Sierra Nevada is being measured in feet, not inches.

Once this storm moves east this afternoon, there is still the threat of widely scattered showers throughout the week. The third storm is way out in the Pacific getting its act together as long-range forecasts see more activity next weekend. Keep in mind we’re still at about normal for this time of year, but this latest event should put totals well above normal in most areas. It will still be hard pressed to duplicate last season’s swollen rain and snow totals.

The El Niño of 1965-66 was a moderate event with a generous rain total of 22 inches for the ’65-’66 season, but the real surprise was the incredible run of consistent surf during that whole season and beyond. It was nearly nonstop surf from every direction for months on end.

The 1972 event was fairly strong with more than 21 inches of rain falling during the 1972-’73 season. The memorable summer of 1972 was the most epic summer we’ve ever had for an incredible run of hurricane south swells from Mexico. We almost ran out the alphabet that year and every system produced waves. That summer had water temps in the low- to mid-70s from June to October and there was hardly any marine layer at all – nothing but sunshine and surf.

We have yet to duplicate a summer like that. We’ve come close a couple of times but the summer of ‘72 really takes the cake. Those of you who were around back then will certainly agree!

See you next week, ALOHA!


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