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McWeather or Not

Sunrises Gone Missing

Dennis McTighe

Temperatures continue to run five to 10 degrees below normal across much of the West Coast as they have all summer with very few exceptions. A stubborn low pressure trough has been loitering just off the coast of Oregon and Washington setting up a nearly constant westerly flow of marine air that has even our local deserts at a mild (for them) 100-105 degrees instead of their usual 110-115 degrees or more.
That’s why we’ve seen hardly any sunrises here in Laguna at all this summer. Every morning we wake up under a gray mantle. The past few days have even had June gloom in August. Average high temps here in town have held at 73 as opposed to a normal of 78.
Up the road in the Northwest, it’s the first summer ever that it hasn’t reached at least 90 degrees in Seattle or Portland. The tone is set so if it hasn’t gotten hot yet, it probably isn’t going to. Today, Monday, Aug. 15, it’s sunny and clear everywhere but in Laguna, where it’s still socked in at  2:30 p.m. From Salt Creek south and Corona del Mar north, it’s gorgeous. I guess it’s Laguna’s hilly terrain that holds the marine layer in place.
Despite countless eviction notices, La Nina refuses to pack her bags and hit the road. That’s why we’re enduring yet another disappointing summer surf wise. During such events the Southern Hemisphere’s jet stream shifts further south away from the equator, so storms down there aren’t as strong so swell activity suffers. With cooler than normal water southwest of Baja, hurricanes lose their punch by the time they reach our Southern California swell window.
It’s time to visit the El Nino summer of ’92, back when we used to have good summers, which seem like a distant memory nowadays. The ’92 El Nino first became official shortly after New Year’s. The rains came soon after with 15 inches falling in Laguna in just February and March alone. In early April the water started to heat up fast and on April 22 it was all the way up to 73 degrees! After a brief upwelling at the end of April and early May, the temp rebounded quickly and by May 10 it was back up to 70 and would hover near that mark for the rest of that month. Next week we’ll continue with the great summer of 1992. 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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