renaissance

McWeather or Not

Monsoon Memories

Dennis McTighe

It’s the morning after the madness of July 4 and all is quiet here on the beach at 8:30 a.m. The sun’s out and it’s already 70 degrees and muggy; the dewpoint is a rather sultry 65 degrees. Normally it runs about 55 or so.

The real fireworks yesterday were provided by Mother Nature as some strong to severe thunderstorms erupted inland over some mountain and desert communities as part of a flood of monsoonal moisture, which packed extra punch thanks to the remains of tropical storm Arlene that made landfall over northern Mexico’s Gulf coast last Friday. Hemet and Lancaster had wind gusts of 70 mph with quarter size hail and frequent lightning. Most of Arizona really got hammered by severe storms with Sky Harbor Airport shutting down operations for a time last weekend due to microbursts in the area. Thunderstorms continue to rumble over Arizona and Southern California and even up into the Sierra Nevadas today. That’s why it’s been so humid around here lately. So the 2011 summer monsoon season is off to a roaring start.

Continuing with our coverage of past El Nino summers we now arrive at the epic summer of 1972, still in my opinion the best surf summer ever to this day. Early in June, Hurricane Ava got things going with three days of double overhead bombs. The water temp. was already 72 degrees by June 5 and the monsoon season kicked in a whole month ahead of schedule with thunderstorms with a third of an inch of rain on the 8th and 9th. There were only three days of gloom that entire month of June 1972.

Then over the July 4 weekend a strong, severe angle 165 degree swell from Hurricane Barbara slammed into our coast during a 90 degree heat wave with glassy conditions all day plus 74 degree water. Then came Celeste in the middle of July stirring things up for five solid days, a long time for a Baja swell but her slow forward movement ( six knots) kept her in our surf “window” for a long time. A week later waves began to pump from Hurricane Diane, so we were already a perfect four for four in the hurricane swell department, but this was only the preview of things to come. Stay tuned for the incredible month of August 1972. Aloha!

Dennis McTighe served as a meteorologist and NOAA forecaster. His daily weather records date to 1958.

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  1. Rick Smith

    I so remember the summer of 72. The surf was the largest I have ever seen in Laguna.

    Rick LBHS 1971

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