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Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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Dennis’ Local Almanac


Season’s first swell

Dennis 5Southern Cal’s south-facing beaches were treated to the season’s first healthy Southern Hemisphere swell last week. Premiere breaks saw some sets nearing double overhead sets and surface conditions were generally favorable during the four-day pulse. Most of the energy hit during the work and school week, so I’m pretty sure that quite a few surfers played hooky. Can you blame them? I’m such a great role model!

I used to play hooky back in the day, calling in sick and I used to get away with it until our school’s truant officer finally got wise. “So, Mr. McTighe, you said you were in bed most of last week with a high fever but how come you’re so tan? I finally called your parents, and they said you probably forged their notes. You’ve already missed 23 days this semester and it’s only late April! Miss one more day and you don’t get your high school diploma!”

Hey, I couldn’t help it, because the spring of 1965 was epic with a ton of early south swells. It got to the point where if the surf was flat, I’d show up for school, but if there was an epic swell, school took a back seat. Plus, weekends were really crowded, and it seemed like the best conditions were during the work and school week, more often than not. My high school was not buying my reasoning one bit. The only thing that saved my butt was I was an A student, but school was so boring for the most part.

Several large clusters of thunderstorms are showing up on satellite images as of late. It signifies it’s time again for the formation of tropical systems in the Eastern Pacific Tropics way down there off the coasts of Southern Mexico and parts of Central America. Anytime now, the first storm of the 2023 season will get its act together with sustained winds of at least 39 mph – and it will be given the name Adrian.

The season which began last week on May 15, usually starts out rather slow with the first named storm showing up about every three years or so during the month of May. Things pick up a bit in June and July but really ramp up in August and September, especially when there’s a strong El Niño going on. That’s when conditions become much more favorable for more frequent and stronger systems to form. There was one August in particular that popped out a total of seven systems in just four weeks and that was smack dab in the middle of the strong El Niño event of 1972, which still is considered by us old timers to be the best summer ever for consistent swells – even to this day.

There were hurricanes Celeste, Diane, Estelle, Fernanda, Gwen, Hyacinth and Inez. I’ve got the records to prove it. That’s why El Niño is our friend and La Niña is the enemy. Proof of that theory is the summer of 1973 on the heels of the epic summer of ‘72. The summer of 1973 had only seven sunny days all summer with cold water and only one hurricane swell the whole season. A strong La Niña event showed up on the heels of that wonderful El Niño we were blessed with the year before.

It is the coming of summer to the Northern Hemisphere that ushers in conditions that spawn tropical storms and hurricanes both in the Pacific and Atlantic. I’ll elaborate more on the life span of a hurricane in next week’s Stu News Laguna.

Until next week!


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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