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March Madness!


Dennis McTighe

The calendar says it’s March, but the thermometer isn’t hearing any of that. With ice in the canyon on Sunday morning, a high Sunday of only 56, snow levels down to 1500 feet in some areas and ocean temps down to 52 to 54 degrees, it sounds a lot like January to me.

Our latest Alaskan Blaster dropped about a half of inch of rain on our soils and they absorbed it nicely, because we had almost a week of dry weather since the previous weekend downpour.

February had a bit of everything: the first half was outstanding with clear sunny skies for the most part and great beach weather with temperatures climbing to levels that were 10 to 15 degrees above normal for almost two weeks straight. Then the protected high pressure ridge we enjoyed decided to move its operations east of the continental divide, opening the door for the Alaskan Express with all its dramatics with hail and thunderstorms, super low snow levels, a couple water spouts, and a couple of funnel clouds sightings, and a sort lived sizeable windswell that lit up of all places Main Beach and Fishermen’s Cove early on Saturday Feb. 19.

Some waves were overhead, which has been a rare event this winter. There were peaks everywhere at Main Beach, normally a place that is walled up for a hundred yards or more. Main Beach only gets epic like that about two or three times a decade, always after a huge amount of rain falls which moves the sand around. Short interval north west wind swells are the best at Main Beach, with the exception of late January of 2010 when a big northwest ground swell transformed Main Beach into an impersonation of Puerto Escondido. The timing was just right just a couple days after a whole week of rain that dropped 8 to 10 inches.

Anyone who was around in March of 1983, Laguna’s wettest March on record with 10.04 inches, will always remember March 1 in particular for all its dramatics. A quick recap: only minutes after sunrise a spectacular double rainbow was seen from north Laguna to El Moro. Then a powerful squall line moved in with intense lighting and thunder with 3.5 inches of rain in a short span of 4.5 hours.  The barometer sank to a near record low 29.21 inches. South Coast Theater was in four feet of water and that afternoon a Chevy Luv truck popped out a storm canal opening at Main Beach and Ocean Avenue. That was one heavy El Nino year 1983.

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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