McWeather or Not


Legalize El Nino!


Dennis McTighe

When you read the latest McWeather installment, summer 2011 will be at its mid-point.

Water temps have really taken a beating since last Friday, falling as much as 12 degrees thanks to the dreaded westerlies. Now it’s upwelling with a burly temp of 58 degrees here on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Now we need a generous helping of south winds to help warm the water back up. An increasing marine layer with its associated south winds should take care of that over the next few days.

After a pretty good start in the swell department, things have really slacked off leaving us wondering if we’re ever going to have a consistent summer again. We’re 0 for 4 in the Baja swell department. The last decent south swell season was 2002 and you have to go all the way back to 1997 to find the last epic summer.

The 80’s and 90’s had plenty of ‘em but the 2000’s have been feeble for the most part thanks to the absence of significant El Nino activity, so time to travel back to the amazing El Nino summer of 1983.

After a fabulous July, August opened with a bang sporting a Southern Hemi and Baja swell combo from tropical storm Eric. Right on the heels of Eric was tropical storm Flossie, which kept it head high for three more days. A strong monsoonal flow and its accompanying heat wave saw thunderstorms on the 6th, 7th and 8th with afternoon highs reaching 95 degrees at water’s edge. Two weak tropical storms, Gil and Henriette, didn’t deliver. But Hurricane Ismael sure did, actually making it halfway up the west coast of Baja and affecting our surf and weather, too, by dropping a half inch of rain on the 16th. Local ocean temps were now up to 76 degrees! Then on the 20th tropical storm Juliette graced us with a nice 3-5 foot bump for three solid days. As her waves faded yet another big Southern Hemi showed up and lasted for four days with more 90-degree weather and 75-degree water. On the 27th and 28th an overhead swell from Hurricane Kiko, and then closing out the incredible month of August we were treated to a three day 3-5 foot pulse from tropical storm Lorena.

Next time we’ll review the months of September and October 1983. 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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