Dennis’ Tidbits


September 14, 2021

Rare light show brightens the night sky

Dennis 5Last Thursday evening Laguna and surrounding areas were treated to a rare light show in the skies for a couple of hours as thunderstorms made a rare appearance from the southeast. Most of these storms were classified as low-grade storms as rainfall amounts were generally light and there was no hail or gusty front-line winds, but there was plenty of lightning and thunder. Severe storms are rare locally as atmospheric dynamics are generally at minimum levels, but still, the light show was great!

The Atlantic hurricane season is officially at its peak from now through early October, and sure enough as one would expect, the Atlantic Basin, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico are all busy. First of all, former Atlantic Hurricane Larry became post-tropical storm Larry as it made it all the way to the southern shores of Newfoundland, dropping feet of snow across that region. That’s really far north for a tropical system to travel, which would be like a system of that intensity making it all the way up as far as British Columbia on our side.

Next in line, short-lived tropical storm Mindy unloaded a half-foot of rain on already saturated areas of the Southeast. Now we have high-end tropical storm Nicholas setting its sights on the Texas coast, promising winds up to 70 mph and up to eight or more inches of rain before all is said and done. It seems like every system on their side makes landfall somewhere between south Texas and coastal Canada. To make matters worse, two more tropical waves have popped out in the far eastern Atlantic off the coast of West Africa at latitude 16 degrees north, with a strong chance of further intensification as they begin their journey westward. The Atlantic is on pace to once again run out of the alphabet for the second consecutive year and only the third time in their history.

Here on our side, we’re very fortunate that we’re not a frequent target for such systems as only twice in our history have we been directly affected by tropical systems born off Mexico, and that was in 1858 and not again until 1939. The waters off our coast are simply too cold as a rule for Eastern Pacific hurricanes to hold it together. Remember, a hurricane needs at least 80-degree water to hold it together, unlike the Eastern Seaboard which has the ever-present super warm pool of water known as the Gulf Stream reaching all the way from the tropics to New England and beyond.

Believe it or not, the Pacific Northwest was violently affected by a former typhoon in the Western Pacific that moved all the way up to the waters far off the coast of Japan, while turning to the east and eventually joining forces with a very deep low-pressure system moving southeast out of the Gulf of Alaska. Days later it invaded the Pacific Northwest, finally making landfall near Astoria, Oregon, on Columbus Day in 1962, packing wind gusts up to 120 mph with over a foot of rain. That was with the lowest barometric pressure in their history at 960 millibars, roughly the strength of a Category 3 hurricane! The screaming message here is that no one escapes the wrath of Ma Nature! 

See you on Friday, ALOHA!