Dennis’ Tidbits


December 1, 2020

The end is nigh…for hurricanes

Dennis 5The 2020 hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans officially ended yesterday, November 30. Although a very rare occurrence, I wouldn’t completely rule out the formation of any more tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean, and the way this year has been, who knows? The previous record year in 2005 saw a system form in January, but it had no effect on anybody as the tropical storm was way out in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless the fact that such a system would show up in, of all months, January, is amazing.

The Eastern Pacific on the other hand was relatively quiet by Pacific standards. There were a total of 15 named storms, making it up to Polo. Only six storms reached hurricane strength and only two of those reached major hurricane status (Category 3 with winds of 111 mph or higher). The second storm of the 2020 season was the only system to make landfall and that was in a remote area near the Mexico/El Salvador border. 

Earlier on in the season, a system that forms way down there and fairly close to land usually has a tendency to blow back to the NE, anyway, instead of moving to the west or NW and out to sea, which most storms do by late June or early July. Hawaii was never even remotely threatened by any tropical systems this year. The last El Nino in 2015 saw six systems that affected the Islands in some way, shape, or form.

So far, this La Nina is behaving true to form, with consistently dry and sunny days not only here in Southern California but pretty much the entire state. The latest California drought monitor reveals that 95 percent of the state is under some degree of drought conditions, as high pressure in the Eastern Pacific and Great Basin continue to run the show. Intermittent strong Santana winds add fuel to the fire, so to speak. There’s another Santana episode slated for the middle of this week, so forget about any rain for the week and beyond. 

The surf suffers during a strong La Nina and the surf is being measured in inches here on Sunday, with nothing in this week’s forecast. Hawaii is off to a very slow start as well, with the north and west shores of the Islands only seeing a handful of overhead swells. 

Now it’s December and our shortest days of the year are upon us, with ten hours or less of possible sunshine for a good part of the month. Our earliest sunset of the year is only a week away with sunset occurring at 4:42 p.m. at our latitude, and our shortest day happening on December 21, the winter solstice, with nine hours and 54 minutes of possible sunshine.

December is our third wettest month on average, with about 2.6 inches of rain for the normal. Our wettest December was in 2010, with a real soaking of 11.85 inches from a hyper-atmospheric river the week leading into Christmas. 

Our second wettest December was in 1997 with 9.89 inches, with 8.08 of that falling on the weekend of December 6-7. We’ve had two rainless Decembers, in 1989 and 1990. Our average hi-lo air temp is 65-44, with our warmest December days of 86 on December 3, 1958 and December 12, 1979. Our coldest December night was 27 in town and 22 out in the canyon on December 10, 1978. 

December’s normal ocean temp is around 58 with the coldest recorded of 52 in 1948 and 1978, which were also the two coldest winters on record here in town. The warmest December ocean temp was 65 in 1972 and 1997.