Dennis’ Tidbits


February 28, 2020

Will rain march in this coming month?

Dennis 5On March 1, 1983, the mega El Nino of 1982-83 was peaking in strength. This event was arguably the strongest El Nino of the 20th century and the events of that day certainly proved it. March of 1983 was the wettest March on record in Laguna with a whopping 10.40 inches, with 3.50 of that falling on the first day of the month alone!

Rainfall exceeding three inches in one day is quite rare and for that week alone into March 7 we collected nearly seven inches. We had just about everything imaginable that day from an intense squall line to start out the day with off-the-charts lightning and thunder for nearly two hours. Half dollar size hail came in nearly sideways, riding on gale force southeasterly winds and it hailed so hard for 35 minutes it totally covered the ground up to three inches deep.

Then there was the angry ocean that was whipping up giant 10 to 12-foot storm waves that coincided with a six-foot tide that swept away all of the sand from Main Beach to Brooks Street. When all was said and done there was nothing but bedrock as far as the eye could see. The Main Beach Boardwalk was torn to shreds, as there was a 10-foot drop off the boardwalk where normally you can just step off.

The Main Beach Lifeguard HQ was totally damaged from flood waters and the relentless waves. Three feet of whitewater was breaking across Main Beach Park and onto Coast Highway where the water was up to two feet deep. The barometer at one point had plunged down to 987 millibars or 29.17 here in town, where the barometer hardly ever drops below 1,000 millibars or 29.50 inches of mercury. What a day it was!

More from the weather glossary of terms….

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The administrative unit within the United States Department of Commerce that oversees the National Weather Service. I used to work there as a severe storms specialist.

NEXRAD (Next Generation Weather Radar Utilizing Doppler Radar): NEXRAD (WSR-88D) systems observe the presence and calculate the speed and direction of motion of severe weather elements, such as tornadoes and violent thunderstorms. Tornadoes show up as a hook echo, severe weather shows up a deep red, hail shows up purple, and debris flow shows up a bluish tint from violent tornadoes. 

Nimbostratus: A principal cloud type; your basic rain cloud, gray, colored, often dark, the appearance of which is rendered diffuse by more, or less, falling rain or snow, which in most cases reaches the ground. It is thick enough throughout to totally blot out the sun.

Noctilucent cloud: I’ve only seen this phenomenon a handful of times in my years of observing. Noctilucent clouds are of unknown composition and occur at great heights, probably around 46.5 to 56 miles. They resemble thin cirrus, but usually with a bluish or silverish color, or sometimes orange to red, standing out in a dark night sky. Like I said, most rare.

Have a great weekend! ALOHA!