McWeather or Not


Summer As it Should Be

Dennis McTighe

Howdy, weather fans, hope you have enjoyed the first third of summer 2011. This time around there’s been plenty to enjoy. Lots of sunshine, minimal marine layer, three healthy south swells which already equals all last summer’s output, and much warmer water. We’ve already had 70 degree water several times, something we didn’t see at all a year ago, so we’re in pretty good shape so far.

Here on Tuesday, July 19, skies are clear and sunny with good air quality as you can kinda see Catalina this afternoon. We have a gentle southwest breeze about 5-6 mph. The afternoon air temp. is a balmy 78 degrees with comfortable humidity of 44% making the dewpoint a reasonable 55 degrees. The water temp. is certainly inviting at 68 degrees, favorable for swimming, diving and paddling mostly ‘cause the surf is tiny today.

It seems like every year lately the surf comes up the week before and the week after the annual Victoria skim event. Same with the U.S. Open up in Huntington. Unfortunately, they don’t have the luxury of the lengthy waiting period we have at the annual Brooks Street Surf Classic, and even that contest has missed a few times since it’s inception in 1954. If it were up to me when to give the Brooks contest the green light I’d say Baja swell or no go. 165-180 degrees at 10-11 seconds or shine it. Trouble is, lately we’re going two, three whole summers without a Baja pulse.

Introducing Dora, the latest tropical system of the 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season. As of Tuesday, July 19, at 5:30 p.m. she just intensified to Category One storm with sustained winds up to 80 mph and gusts up to 90. Dora could beef up to as much as a Category 3 within a couple days as she’s way down there in very warm water up to 88 degrees with little or no upper level shear wind action. Her forward speed and direction is to the west-northwest at 15 mph. She’s still a couple or three days from our Southern California surf “window” so don’t get too excited just yet. Why so pessimistic? With good reason, we’ve had a measly total of 13 Baja swells so far this century. We used to get that many during a busy El Nino season.

Next week, the magical  El Nino summer of 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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