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McWeather or Not

Dennis McTighe

Hurricane Season Touches Down

You can’t ask for a nicer Memorial Day than today. Notoriously cloudy, today is quite the wonderful exception thanks to yesterday’s Aleutian blaster, which swept things clean, so clean that Catalina Island looks like you could almost reach out and touch it!

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is over two weeks old and there are several large clusters of strong thunderstorms forming just off the coast of Southern Mexico. Any time now these clusters will get their act together to form the first named storm of the 2011 season. The first storm of the season normally forms by the first or second week of June.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins this Wednesday and runs through Dec. 1. Where Eastern Pacific hurricanes frequently move out to sea and away from land, the Atlantic side has a lot more to worry about as storms in the Atlantic Basin move to the west or northwest toward land where a lot of real estate from the south coast of Texas all the way up to Maine can take a hit from one or more during the course of a season, whereas Southern California has only taken a beating once and that was on Sept. 25, 1939, during a strong El Nino event.

Through extensive research on El Nino and La Nina events, it has been learned that those two events are a very significant player in hurricane production In the Eastern Pacific. With a strong El Nino going on, hurricanes are more frequent and much stronger and more likely to send big south swells our way, music to us surfer’s ears. Since 1958 when McWeather began keeping track of south swells from “chubascos” (Spanish for tropical storms), he’s never seen an El Nino summer go by without one or more big wave events from these spinners. The best Baja swell summer ever in McWeather’s opinion would have to be the El Nino summer of 1972 without a doubt. Starting with “Ava” in early June right through September with “Rosa”, every storm produced waves for Southern California. And the water temp. was 70-74 degrees the whole summer! It was almost like the planets all lined up or something. We had double overhead swells from “Fernanda”, “Gwen”, “Hyacinth”, “Inez”,”Joanne”, “Kathleen”, and “Paula”. Still more to come about hurricanes in next week’s column. Sunrise today is at 5:42 a.m. and sunset is at 7:55 p.m. The sun will set at 8 p.m. or later from June 6-July 18. Until next week, 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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