Weather or Not

Memorable February Events

By Dennis McTighe

Sunday night’s sunset was about as good as they come. McWeather has seen lots of great sunsets in lots of places in the world but last night’s cavalcade of color was definitely in the top 10.

The first half of February 2011 has been very kind to us. The second half might not be so kind. The broad ridge of high pressure that has been parked over the Southwest for the past couple weeks is shifting to the east side of the Rocky Mountains. A deep trough of low pressure is beginning to plunge southward over the Far West bringing the storm track with it, resulting in increasing chances of precipitation as the  week progresses. Our high-pressure ridge is moving east, giving that part of the country a well-deserved break from their worst winter on record.

Memorable events from Februarys past:

February 1972 becomes the driest on record with 0.05 inches, breaking the old record set in 1961.

February 6, 1973, strong convection produces a total of seven waterspouts off Laguna with three separate hail events, part of a wet winter that saw nearly 22 inches of rain.

February 10, 1978, a powerful squall line invades Laguna in the wee hours with wind gusts up to 65 mph blowing out ocean facing windows, notably surf legend Corky Smith’s huge bay window. The barometer also dropped to 29.35 inches as the squall line’s core passed directly over Laguna. 33 inches fell that winter of 1977-78.

February 2, 1979, an unusually cold storm drops down from Alaska and local snow levels drop to 1500 feet with an inch of snow in Mission Viejo foothills and 15 inches on Santiago Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains. The ocean temp. was 49 degrees, part of the coldest winter since 1948-49.

February, 1980, a total of 12.75 inches of rain falls in Laguna making it the third wettest on record.

Feb. 24, 1984, Santa Ana winds up to 55 mph buffet Laguna with humidity down to 8 percent.

Feb. 4, 1995, temp. soars to 88 degrees, setting a new high.

Feb. 23, 1998, a total of four inches falls on Laguna with the month’s total at 14.02 inches, setting a new record for wettest February ever.

See you next week. Aloha!

Dennis McTighe served as a meteorologist and NOAA forecaster. He and earned an earth science degree and has kept daily weather records since 1958.

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  1. Gene Roos

    Dennis, Congratulations on 6 great years. I find your column fascinating.
    I have a question which I think would be interesting. Since I work out of town, I drive through the canyon at a little after 5 in the morning. I’ve noticed that the temperature will drop as I leave PCH and enter the canyon. It will then rise a few degrees as I get into Irvine.
    Is there a simple explanation for this micro-climate phenomenon?

  2. Lucy

    Hello Dennis. I live in Costa Rica, and I was investigating Corky Smith (surf legend) for a proyect, and I run over this article were you mention him. Do you have any idea of any way that I could contact Corky?
    Thanks in advanced,

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