Dennis’ Local Almanac

By DENNIS McTIGHE

A solar eclipse and a chilly spring

For those of you who caught the solar eclipse yesterday (April 8), congrats! A total solar eclipse won’t be visible again from the contiguous United States until August 23, 2044 (according to NASA), but totality will only occur over North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, plus northern Canada. However, the next total solar eclipse with a coast-to-coast path spanning the lower 48 states is predicted to take place on August 12, 2045.

Here we are in the second week of April and we’re still waiting for that first 80-degree day, or for that matter, the first elusive 70-degree day in 2024. On Friday, our high temp in Laguna was a burly 57 degrees which is 13 degrees below normal for the date. Spring of 2024 is barely three weeks old and at this point it’s the coldest start to spring on record.

Here on Sunday (April 7), it was clear and sunny with a forecast high of only 61 with a low of 44 and the water temp was a shivering 55 with the waves being measured in inches. I call them ankle snappers. There’s no rain forecast for most of the work week, as our rainy season normally begins to wind down at this point with an April average of around 1.1 inches. This past fall and winter period had the distinction of having had the fewest Santana wind events of any season with only three events: two moderate events last November and one brief strong one in January, and that was it.

The prime reason for such a scarcity of those warm, dry, gusty northeast winds was the utter dominance of a larger and stronger persistent trough of very low pressure over the Southwest and out into the Pacific. It has opened the door for incoming strong storms from all directions to have their way with California’s landscape throughout the region, resulting in way above normal rain and snow production. After last season’s drencher, we thought the 2022-23 season would be a hard act to follow, but the return of a strong El Niño saw to it that for the second consecutive year we would be blessed with copious amounts of rain and snow. So, we will be assured of full water supplies when things get dry this upcoming summer.

Here in April, we are beginning the transition from El Niño back to La Niña and that really affects what will happen this upcoming summer and fall as far as tropical cyclone activity is concerned. In the Eastern Pacific, tropical cyclone season officially begins on May 15, just five weeks away and the Atlantic and Caribbean season commences on June 1.

In the Pacific with a La Niña present, upper-level shear winds from the west and southwest increase significantly – which result in a lower number of tropical storms and hurricanes forming in the tropical waters off Southern Mexico. The stronger winds at the surface cause some upwelling that brings cooler waters from the depths so surface temps get cooled as much as six degrees, putting those temps a degree or more below the 80-degree threshold needed for storm development. Plus, the upper-level shear winds are stronger, resulting in the tops of thunderstorms being blown away. That condition prevents full maturation of these thunderstorm clusters so the storms that do form are weaker, thus preventing those cyclones from reaching major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher with winds more than 110 mph.

Here is the list of names assigned for the 2024 – they are as follows: Aletta, Bud, Carlotta, Daniel, Emilia, Fabio, Gilma, Hector, Ileana, John, Kristy, Lane, Miriam, Norman, Olivia, Paul, Rosa, Sergio, Tara, Vicente, Willa, Xina, York, and finally, Zeke. We’ve run out the entire alphabet once and that was in 1992 when there was a healthy El Niño going on. We’ll cover the Atlantic Basin in next week’s edition of Stu News Laguna.

Until then, ALOHA!


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