McWeather or Not


Of Sun, Wind and Waves  

By Dennis McTighe

We’re approaching our earliest sunset and shortest day of the year. To rephrase, it’s not the actual day that is shorter. It’s still a 24 hour day just like all the others; it’s the shortest amount of suntime. Today, Monday, Dec. 5, our amount of actual sun time at this latitude is 10 hours and 2 minutes with sunrise at 6:41 a.m. and sunset at 4:43 p.m.

The day with the least sun time of 9 hours and 54 minutes happens on Dec. 21, our winter solstice, when sunrise is at 6:54 a.m. and sunset at 4: 48 p.m. Our earliest sunset is this Saturday, Dec. 10 at 4:41 p.m. After that it sets a minute later every day or two. On or about Jan. 8 the sun will set at 5 p.m. and by Jan. 31 at 5:18 p.m. By the end of February, we will have gained an hour of daylight since the solstice, with  sunset at 5: 48 p.m. Daylight savings will begin on Sunday, March 9, so we have quite a way to go until we see the light, so to speak.
The latest round of Santa Ana winds failed to reach full strength here in Laguna. We had light variable winds early in the week. Last week’s heavy Santa Ana wind event only gusted about 20 mph or so locally, but inland communities didn’t fare as well. Category two force gusts hammered parts of the San Gabriel Valley and San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The stronger the pressure gradient between the high and low cells the greater the wind velocities. McWeather is happy to report at this hour that no wildfires have appeared on the radar. The current strong high pressure ridge should hold for at least the next week with clear cold nights and sunny mild days with highs generally in the mid to upper 60’s. The next chance of rain isn’t until the middle of next week.
Continuing our coverage of epic Pacific winter swells we arrive at Dec.7-8, 1969, when the same massive swell that hit Hawaii earlier arrived here in California with gusto. The swell started to come on strong around noon on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Santa Barbara’s Rincon. At 10 a.m. the “Queen” was a playful 3 to 5 ft. All of a sudden at about noon or so the sets jacked up to 6 to 8 feet. By 3 p.m., it was a solid 10 to 12 feet and still rising. By the time we pulled out of there at sunset it was 15 plus and capping way past Indicators. More next time. 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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  1. Over many years, I enjoyed Dennis McTighe’s column and even bragged about it to a (new-arrival resident on Cliff Drive, who does not get the “Indy” automatically, as I do)friend. I am glad that you reprinted Dennis’ last year’s “winter solstice” article and passed it on. I wonder where I could find actual “McWeather or Not” articles. Do you know?

    Regina Korpi


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