A Month of Extremes
This past Monday, Dec. 6, marks the anniversary of Laguna’s biggest rain event of all time.
Jump in the time machine back to 1 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, 1997. Torrential rains, frequent lightning and thunder and 30 to 40 m.p.h. winds arrive with a vengeance. A look at the Doppler radar tells it all; it’s going to be one doozy of a night.
A solid line of orange and red up to 200 miles long is moving in from the south-southwest and the core of the heaviest activity is a 20 mile wide band from Corona del Mar to San Clemente. From 1 to 8 a.m., it never let up, totaling a whopping 6.85 inches in just seven hours! Heck, sometimes we don’t get that much water in a whole year! An additional 1.23 inches fell between 9 a.m. that morning and midnight for a 24-hour total of 8.08 inches, eclipsing the old record if 7.74 inches which fell on Sept. 25, 1939, when the tropical storm made landfall near Long Beach. In addition to the 24-hour record, a one-hour record rainfall total was set when 2.75 inches fell between 3 and 4 a.m. that morning. In addition to the 24-hour record, a season record of 37.27 fell during that El Nino fueled season of 1997-98.
Laguna’s rainy season really gets going in December with a normal rainfall of around 2.6 inches. Our wettest December on record is yep, you guessed it, 1997 with 9.89 inches. Laguna’s warmest December day on record was Dec. 3, 1958, with 86 degrees, and the coldest night at 22 degrees was Dec. 10, 1978.
Dec. 8-11, this past Wednesday through Saturday, will see the earliest sunset of the year with a time of 4:41 p.m. at our latitude, but our shortest day of suntime is Dec. 21 with a 6:54 a.m. sunrise and 4:48 p.m. sunset; that’s 9 hours 54 minutes total suntime. Our latest sunrise doesn’t actually occur until Dec. 31 and running through Jan. 14 with a time of 6:58 a.m. The further north you go in our Hemisphere on the winter solstice, the shorter the amount of suntime you’ll see. For instance, Laguna’s earliest sunset occurs at 4:41 p.m. Go up the coast to San Francisco, it’s 4:33 p.m. Up in Portland, Ore., it’s 4:24 p.m. Onward to say, Seattle it’s 4:19 p.m. and so on. The reversal is true on the summer solstice when the days are longer the further from the Equator you are here in the northern Hemisphere.
Until next time. Aloha!
Dennis McTighe served as a meteorologist at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, was a NOAA forecaster, and earned an earth science degree from UC San Diego. He has kept daily weather records since 1958.