renaissance

McWeather or Not

Warm Christmas Again!

By Dennis McTighe

By the time you read McWeather’s latest literary installment, winter will be upon us. Wednesday the 21st marks the arrival of the solstice with 9 hours 54 minutes of sun time at our latitude. The further north you go the less amount of sun time there is on the winter solstice and it’s just the opposite on the summer solstice come June 21.
The long range computer models as of 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, show a warm offshore flow developing over the holiday weekend with daytime temperatures climbing possibly into the mid to upper 70s., well above the normal for Christmas of 65. But if it’s a white Christmas you want, well that’s only a couple hours away. That’s the nice thing about living in So. Cal.. Other climates are only a few gallons of gas away. Nothing like wearing shorts and flops on X-mas day, eh?
Several Christmas Days in the past have been super warm with temps. reaching 80 plus on a few occasions. In ’64 it was 80 on Christmas Day. In 1976 it made it up to 81 with Santana winds. McWeather spent Christmas Day, 1980 playing at Rincon where it was 4-6 foot with 80 offshore winds. The swell sneaked in overnight on X-mas eve ( it was totally flat the day before with day long dense fog).  Then Santa showed up in the middle of the night bringing presents in the way of offshore winds and a spanking new WNW swell that lit up the “Queen” by dawn’s early light. The best part about that day… less than 20 people out! Normally on a day like that there’d be at least 75- 100 in the lineup.
Let’s have another look at epic winter swells from yesteryear. The winter of 1982-83 was in the grips of arguably the strongest El Nino event of the 20th century. From October of 1982 through April of 1983 one would be hard pressed to find even one single flat day during that whole period. Almost every North Pacific storm found a way to send us its waves. Just to give you a clue of how heavy that winter was, there was a solid eight week period from the middle of January through the middle of March where the surf never dropped below six feet and the last two weeks of January it never dropped under ten feet. More on that next time. A sincere happy holidays to everyone! Aloha!
Dennis McTighe served as a meteorologist at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii from 1969 to 1972, and was an NOAA forecaster  and earned a degree in Earth Sciences from UC San Diego and has been keeping daily weather records since 1958.

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