Dennis’ Local Almanac


La Niña returns this summer

The 2024 tornado season is turning out to be the most deadly and destructive since 2011 and before that, 1974 – and May’s not even over yet. At 5 p.m. on Sunday, there was a new outbreak beginning to terrorize a large expanse of real estate from Texas to Michigan.

In Texas, it was particularly hard as storm after storm formed in an explosive manner in West Texas and barreled eastward. They carry with them not only straight-line winds up to 75 mph, but these super cells are popping out a bunch of EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes at an alarming rate. Upper-level shear winds at 10,000 ft. are roaring in from the WSW and hooking up with strong surface winds from the SSE so what you get is a violent rotation in these cumulonimbus monsters with tops as high as 55,000 ft.

Hail the size of softballs is joining the atmospheric party and don’t forget the rain, as much as 2.5 inches an hour. Once these storms exit a given area there’s a brief break that lasts no more than 18-24 hours until the next onslaught and the process starts all over again. This violent cycle has been going on for weeks on end with no letup seen anytime soon. Once a low pressure crosses the Rockies, it’s game on!

Meanwhile here at home, that elusive 70-degree day is still waiting in the wings as high temps for the month have been as much as eight degrees below normal for this time of year. In all my years of keeping track of this stuff I’ve never seen a spring go by without at least one really warm stretch. That has yet to happen. Local ocean temps are finally in the low 60s with a 67 reading in San Clemente on Sunday afternoon. The sun finally made an appearance Sunday afternoon with a high temp of 68 degrees at Main Beach. The sunrise on Sunday occurred at 5:46 a.m. and the sunset was at 7:55 p.m. From June 3 until July 20, the sun will set at 8 p.m. or later.

The 2024 Eastern Pacific Hurricane season began on May 15 and runs until November 30. There are a few clusters of thunderstorms way southwest of Southern Mexico, but that’s about it for at least the next five to seven days with little or no development seen. The average date for the first named hurricane is around June 10. With the expected return of La Niña this summer, tropical storm development will be slow to get going as upper-level shear winds will be stronger this year. Those west to SW winds blow the cloud tops off at lower levels, thus stumping significant hurricane development. If we see any hurricanes, they will be weaker with the likelihood of very few becoming major hurricanes at Category 3 or higher with sustained winds of 111 mph or stronger.

Once again, the list of named storms for the 2024 season is: Aletta, Bud, Carlotta, Daniel, Emilia, Fabio, Gilma, Hector, Ileana, John, Kristy, Lane Miriam, Norman, Olivia, Paul, Rosa, Sergio, Tara, Vicente, Willa, Xavier, Yolanda, and finally, Zeke. We’ve only used the entire alphabet and that was in 1992, when a healthy El Niño was in the water.

Because the return of La Niña is expected this summer, the NOAA and the National Hurricane Center are calling for a very active 2024 season because sea surface temps are already at levels found in mid-August. The upper-level shear winds have really slackened so the Atlantic Basin and Caribbean will both be on steroids this time around. Their season starts this coming Saturday and runs through November 30.

Stay tuned and ALOHA!

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