McWeather or Not

Summer’s Forecast

Dennis McTighe

Summer 2011 arrived this week on Tuesday, June 21. It’s the longest day of the year, though not time wise, but in the amount of sun time with 14 hours and 25 minutes at this latitude. Sunrise today occurs at 5:40 a.m. and sunset will occur at 8:05 p.m. The further north you go, the more sun time you get.

What kind of summer can we expect here in Laguna? I’m thinking not so good at this point in time as we’re still under the curse of the current stubborn La Nina event, which has been loitering around since March of last year. That’s why last summer was so awful in terms of weather, water temperature and surf. Granted, the cold water upwelling is great for the kelp, but 55 degree water last August? That’s a bit too hard to swallow (no pun intended).

Our worst summers have been during these La Ninas. The opposite is evident during El Ninos.

We’ll start with the “enemy”, La Nina. Summer of 1962: Only eight sunny days all summer, average water temperature was a cool 65.2 degrees, four lackluster Southern Hemisphere swells, one minor Baja pulse. Summer of 1967: Only 10 sunny days, average water temp. only 65.8 degrees, only reaching 70 degrees three days. Then came the summer of 1973: Only five sunny days, average water temp. at 65.5 degrees with only five days of 70 degrees, one Baja swell and four decent Southern Hemis. Summer of 1991: a  real stinker; four sunny days, average water temp. a chilly 64.9 degrees, no Baja swells and only four modest Southern Hemis. Summer of 2005 was a weird one; only 12 sunny days, cold water, try 54 degrees on July 10, thick red tide almost all summer with swarms of jellyfish, three modest Southern Hemis and a two day Baja pulse in September. And finally the summer of 2010. You know the rest.

Next week’s installment will feature El Nino summers. You’ll really notice the vast difference between the two events.

Meanwhile, we now have tropical storm “Beatriz” downgraded from a Category One hurricane as of noon today. She nearly made landfall near Manzanillo, Mexico ,but has taken a sharp turn to the west and is breaking up in cooler waters so forget about any surf from her. What else is new? See you 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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