Dennis’ Local Almanac

By DENNIS McTIGHE

April sun and showers

Now it’s April, no foolin’ – as March closed out on a very wet note with some pretty strong thunderstorms that were scattered across the region. All that was thanks to a deep cutoff low that made its way down the entire Pacific West Coast with lots of rain and snow from the Northwest all the way to the Mexico-California border. No, the storminess was not the result of an atmospheric river (AR) in any way, shape, or form. It seems like nowadays it’s in vogue to call nearly all these rain sources ARs, but they’ve got it all wrong. This low came from the north having broken away from the northern jet stream or storm track, hence the moniker cutoff low…so let’s get it right!

April around here usually sees the rainy season begin winding down with an average April rainfall at around one inch or so. Our wettest April occurred in 1958 and again in 1965 with a total of 6.02 inches followed by 5.16 inches in 1983. Around one in five Aprils go rainless.

Things start warming up in April with an average high-low of 72-53. Our hottest April day occurred on April 6, 1989, with a sizzling 101. That day got the nickname of Shake ‘n Bake as a magnitude 4.6 earthquake hit under Fashion Island, part of the Newport-Inglewood Fault just before 12 p.m. Our coldest April reading occurred on April 10, 1975, with a low of 37. Laguna’s normal April ocean temp is around 58-60 with the warmest April water temp occurring on April 15, 1997 at a very tropical 75, a product of a very strong El Niño event that year. The coldest April ocean temp occurred in early April 1974, when the temp sank briefly down to 49.

The month of April sees a dramatic spike in the number of reported tornadoes in our country’s heartland. Tornadoes vary greatly in size, intensity and appearance. Most (69%) of the tornadoes that occur each year fall into the “weak” category where wind speeds are in the range of 110 mph or less. Weak tornadoes account for less than 5% of all tornado deaths.

About one out of every three tornadoes (29%) is classified as “strong.” Strong tornadoes have wind speeds reaching about 205 mph with an average path length of nine miles and an average width of about 200 yards. Almost 30% of all tornado deaths occur from this type of storm. Nearly 70% of all tornado fatalities, however, result from “violent” tornadoes. Although very rare (only about 2% are violent), these extreme tornadoes can last for hours. The El Reno tornado in Okla. in 2003 was so violent it had wind speeds more than 300 mph with a width of 2.6 miles at one point! The town of Moore, Okla. has been hit three times in the last 25 years by such a tornado. By that time, I’d be renaming that town “Less!”

Our upcoming week looks to be less dramatic than the last one with only a few showers later this week. However, temps still won’t warm up that much with highs only in the high 60s at the most. We’re still waiting for our first 80-degree day and that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. Look for a sizable Southern Hemisphere swell by next weekend if everything pans out. Ocean temps remain burly in the mid to high 50s.

See you next week, ALOHA!


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