clear sky


Laguna Beach

Volume 15, Issue 11  | February 7, 2023Subscribe

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Dennis’ Local Almanac


King tides and nice swells    

Dennis 5How sparkling clear was it here on Sunday afternoon? So clear you could see Catalina Island perfectly, and San Clemente Island was totally visible as well, which is quite rare – as it’s about 54 miles off our coast. Sunday was about as beautiful a day as they come here in Laguna. 

Meanwhile, on the planet they call Buffalo, they were playing football in a full-on blizzard with lake effect snow and winds up to 35 mph with heavy snow coming in sideways with a wind chill factor of 10 degrees. 

The Cincinnati Bengals were playing the Buffalo Bills and the Bengals won with a score of 27-10. The field, as you might expect, was a complete mess. You couldn’t pay me enough to even spend 10 minutes in Buffalo!

On Saturday, we saw the New Moon for January, when the Earth and the Moon were aligned with the Sun, and the Moon was the closest to the Sun in 1,322 years. The resulting King Tides, the highest and lowest tides of the year, occurred with a most rare nine-foot swing here in Laguna with a morning high tide of 7.1 feet and an afternoon low tide of minus 1.9 feet. 

These King Tides occur everywhere when there’s a full moon or a new moon. Even though the water was at its highest point, there was no beach erosion at all as the surf was being measured in inches instead of feet. The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, my mom’s birthplace, boasts the largest tidal swing in the Northern Hemisphere with nearly a 100-foot tidal swing between high and low tide during a new or full moon. 

The Hawaiian Islands show a spread of only about four feet, the lowest in our hemisphere. Our highest and lowest tides occur in December and January and again in June and July. Our most mellow tides happen during the first and last quarter moon phase. Incidentally, before I forget, Sunday after sunset when it got dark, conditions were perfect for viewing three of our planets at their brightest. 

First there’s Venus, which is fairly low in the WSW sky, then there’s Jupiter that sets in the west around 11:30 p.m., and then there’s unusually bright Mars at the sky’s Zenith around 10 p.m. Mars is fairly easy to spot as it has a reddish tint to it. Skies were super clear that evening, so conditions were ideal for viewing the heavens.

California and Hawaii are seeing the best winter swell activity since the winter of 2015-16 when we had our last El Niño. Big wave spots here in California, the west coast of Baja, and the Hawaiian Islands have been off the charts for several solid weeks. We’ll start with California where the entire state has seen epic swells after enduring one of the longest flat spells that went on for the last seven winters. What a payback with interest. 

Way up the road at Cape Mendocino, there were sets up to 50 feet or more at a spot that only breaks like this about once a decade if they’re lucky. That super strong cyclone bomb at the end of 2022 was situated in the perfect location for a swell of this magnitude. Only a handful of lucky riders were there to reap the benefits. Some sets were breaking a mile out to sea! More on this in next week’s edition of Stu News Laguna

Until then, stay warm!


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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