McWeather or Not


2011 in the Rearview Mirror


By Dennis McTighe

What a dandy Christmas Day! Clear sunny skies, 70 degree temps and a clear view of all the mountains to the east and even San Clemente Island to our southwest. Another highlight of the day was a whale sighting just a few yards outside Brook Streets’ Second Reef around 2:30 in the afternoon. Then came a spectacular sunset at 4:50 p.m. with lots to see right after sunset. There was the tiny sliver of the new moon in the southwest sky with the bright planet Venus not far behind. Then nearly as bright, planet Jupiter rose nearly directly overhead. An hour or so after sunset McWeather observed not one but two brilliant shooting stars to the east, a sighting more normally reserved for post midnight hours. This was a far cry from last year when we were recovering from a foot of rain during Christmas week alone. By this time last season our rainfall total beginning July 1, 2010 had already swollen to over 17 inches. Laguna would finish the 2010-11 season with nearly 23 inches, most uncharacteristic of a La Nina event, which normally produces a much below average rainfall output. This season’s total from July 1 to Dec. 26 is just a little above 3 inches.
It’s time to check out a few stats for the year just elapsed. Laguna’s hottest day was Sept. 7 with 95 degrees. Our coldest night was Dec. 16 with 34 degrees in town and 28 degrees out in the canyon. The warmest ocean temp was 73 degrees on July 27 and our coldest ocean reading was 54 degrees over the last week of March. Our wettest day was March 22 with 1.41 inches of rain. The highest barometer reading was Dec. 22 at 30’38 inches of mercury on the aneroid barometer. Our lowest barometric pressure was 29’59 inches on March 22. Our strongest wind gust was 42 mph from the northeast earlier this month from a strong Santa Ana wind event. Our lowest humidity reading also occurred on the same day with a bone dry 11 percent mark. The biggest swell of the year hit in late August with a powerful Southwest ground swell from New Zealand with sets up to 12 feet in Laguna and sets over 20 feet at Newport’s famous Wedge. That’ll do it for 2011. See you next year. 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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