Dennis’ Local Almanac

By DENNIS McTIGHE

Blustery spring week!

I hope you like wind, because on Sunday there was a real surplus of it, not only here in Laguna but over a large portion of the Southwest, as the coldest and snowiest weather of the year waited for spring to start. The entire northern tier of states, including the Midwest and Great Lakes region, plus the Northeast, have just endured the least snowy winter on record. But the overall warmest winter on record has given way to a wide expanse of the final arrival of intense conditions that are more typical of mid-January.

In those areas, they’re calling it the winter that wasn’t as temps vaulted into the upper 50s and even low 60s as far north as Minnesota, with winter snow totals as low as 20% of normal snowpacks across the region. Then spring comes along, and snows are now being measured in feet, something that never happened even once all winter. El Niño has been a major player in all of this.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, those poor 9-to-5ers endured yet another severe weekend washout and of course things cleared up here on Sunday evening just in time for a work week which will offer sunshine and mild conditions – the curse continues. By this time, I’d be relocating very quickly. The worst day in Laguna is still a hundred times better than the best day in New York!

Meanwhile here in the West, we’re looking at a mostly blustery week over most of the area as a large upper-level low pressure trough is sliding from north to south with intermittent rain and snow showers with at least an addition of two feet or more in our Sierra Nevada range. The Sierras got off to a very slow start up to around New Year’s with snowpacks only 20-30% of normal, but since 2024 started, they’ve been hitting the jackpot in a big way. In a statement released by the NOAA, the northern sierras are at 122% above normal, the central sierras are at 98% of normal, and the southern part is at 85%, with an additional two feet or more slated for the upcoming week. Long-range totals into early to mid-April will be adding more to the current levels and that’s wonderful news to the water tables for later this spring and summer months. Thank you, El Niño. Remember El Niño is our friend, and La Niña is the enemy.

Laguna and surrounding areas are being buffeted by strong gusty NW winds up to 30 mph or more here as that deep low crawls down the West Coast – and that’s going to do a real number on our local ocean temps. On Sunday, Orange County ocean temps were still in the upper 50s, but with gusty winds continuing into at least midweek, those temps will plummet significantly as severe upwelling will be running the show.

Some of our coldest water readings often occur during the entire spring with temps as low as 50 degrees, which is not uncommon even as late as mid-May. In May 1974, the temp sank to 49 degrees for a brief period before rebounding, thanks to a major shift in the wind direction to the SSE. Look for unsettled conditions throughout the week with a mixture of sun and showers, and continued temps of at least five degrees below normal.

Until next week, ALOHA!


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