Dennis’ Tidbits


September 15, 2020

Depression forecast to affect the weather, too: Is the country ready for Teddy?

Dennis 5On this date, September 15, 1997, one of the biggest hurricane swells of all time marched into Southern California, thanks to Category 5 Hurricane Linda, who at one time had sustained winds of 184 mph, gusts up to 225, and a central pressure of 896 millibars. Those stats made her the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane of all time until Category 5 Patricia dethroned Linda in October of 2015 with sustained winds of 200 mph, gusts as high as 230, and a central pressure as low as 882 millibars.

Right now a strong La Nina event is going on, resulting in a quiet Eastern Pacific hurricane season and a hyperactive Atlantic and Caribbean season. Yet another tropical system is getting set to attack the central Gulf States. Late last Friday, tropical storm Sally formed near the Florida Keys, and while moving to the WNW and then NW, she will more than likely intensify into a hurricane.

When she slows down to about 6-8 mph, prolonged torrential rains and storm surges up to 12 feet or more are likely to occur. Some places in Southern Mississippi and Southeastern Louisiana could get as much as two feet of rain, so here we go again!

Meanwhile a new tropical depression has formed off the coast of Western Africa and all indications point to rapid development into a major hurricane over the next five days as it moves to the west at latitude 15 degrees north. The new system will have the name Teddy. To make matters worse, yet another tropical wave is not far behind Teddy and it, too, has a strong chance of development. Stay tuned on all that. 

Here in Southern California we’re basically safe from attacks from major tropical systems with only two events historically over the years. We’ve had a few tropical depressions that affected our weather to a degree, with maybe an inch or so of rain and some increase in surf on south facing beaches. 

Way back in 1858, a Category 2 hurricane made landfall near San Diego, but casualties were at a minimum and there was little structural damage, because there was simply hardly anyone around at that time. If that had happened here in modern times, the conversation would be much different. 

The other event occurred on September 25, 1939, when a high-end tropical storm made landfall near Long Beach causing winds up to 65 mph, up to seven inches of rain, and high surf that dismantled the pier at the north end of Main Beach. When those two systems hit us the water temp was at 80 degrees, which kept these two systems alive because of a strong El Nino in 1858 and 1939.

Other than those two events, we’re just not a regular target for these systems as they either move out to sea or dissipate in the colder waters off the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. The waters up here are simply too cold for a system to sustain its strength, whereas the Atlantic has the super warm Gulf Stream. Some storms have made it as far north as Nova Scotia and even Newfoundland at 48 degrees north latitude. 

The East Coast and Gulf of Mexico have to squirm every year at this time, especially when there’s a strong La Nina going on. That’s why we live here! We have our own set of issues here like fire, flood, earthquake, and drought, so we’re not getting off the hook by any means, especially this year as the entire West Coast is on fire and it seems to get worse every year. 

Stay safe and healthy everyone, ALOHA!