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McWeather or Not

Swell Time Forecast  for Summer

By Dennis McTighe

It’s a pretty decent looking Monday here in Lagunaville with sunny skies, a few puffy clouds, a gentle breeze, air temperature in the mid 60s water temp. in the mid 50s, but a very flat ocean, which has been the case for quite some time now. From feast to famine. Last year around this time, we had 17 west to northwest overhead swells compared to a paltry two swells so far this season. Of course it might be some time before we can even come close to matching last winter’s output.

I’m going out on a limb, hoping no one’s right behind me with a chain saw, as I’m calling for a good summer this time around. At least that’s been the pattern over the past few decades; 1967 was a fraud, then 1968 was great, 1973 sucked, 1974 was wonderful with lots of big south swells and sunny weather, 1982 was pretty much a write-off, then the El Nino fueled summer of 1983 had only five flat days the whole summer with hurricane swells nearly completing the alphabet, 1991 was tragic, then 1992 saw sun almost every day, 74 degree water as early as April, and a consistent mix of Baja and Southern Hemisphere swells. So I’m hoping that pattern holds.

Turning back the clock, on Jan. 10, 1949, it snowed in Laguna and stayed on the ground for several hours, two to three inches of it, all part of a week-long record cold snap as temps. in the canyon plunged to an all time record low of 19 degrees. A cold upper level low was parked over the Southland while a strong polar continental high pressure plunged south out of Canada to create the freakish conditions that whole week.

January rainfall in Laguna has exceeded 10 inches on four occasions, 1941, 1969, 1993, and 1995, but January of 1969 was a real hum dinger with an astounding 18.81 inches with nearly 40 inches falling in some parts of the Santa Ana Mountains and upper Ortegas. It was the wettest month in Laguna history, far surpassing the second wettest, which was 14.02 inches in February of 1998. 1969’s record rain was a relentless 11-day “Pineapple Express” event.

The sun is now setting after 5 p.m., yippee! 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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