Hurricane Season in San Diego

The San Diego hurricane season has begun

By Whitney Southwick
|  Friday, May 22, 2009  |  Updated 11:15 AM PDT
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Hurricane Season in San Diego

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Usually it's the east coast that gets hurricane warnings. But researchers say it has happened along our coast.

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The San Diego hurricane season has begun. . . really!  It runs from May 15 through the end of November and even though most of the hurricanes and tropical storms that take place in our part of the Pacific remain well south of San Diego, there have been exceptions so pay attention.

There were always rumors that San Diego got hit by a hurricane - once, back in the 1800s.  But, it wasn't until just a few years ago that researchers confirmed it.  Using scientific data and numerous written reports on the weather and resulting damage, the researchers concluded that, in fact, San Diego was struck by a minimal hurricane on October 2, 1858.  It dropped a lot of rain, caused a lot of damage and it even killed some people, though exact numbers are unknown.  The wind that day was measured at 74 miles per hour, which is the exact speed at which winds move from tropical storm strength to that of hurricane strength.

A couple of other hurricanes came close but they either broke up or moved away before making landfall.  The most recent was Hurricane Linda during the summer of 1997.  It was making a bee-line toward Southern California before veering off back to the west where it died off out in the middle of the ocean.  However, it still sent some pretty decent rain our way and then, just two weeks later, the remnants of Hurricane Nora drenched the county; Mt. Laguna received more than four inches of rain in just one day.  In 1960, Hurricane Estelle made it as far north as Central Baja before breaking up.  The ensuing rains though dropped 3.4" of rain on Julian in just a few hours.

The summer of 1939 was one of the busiest ever in the Southwest.  A powerful hurricane (they were unnamed back then) made it all the way up the Sea of Cortez before moving to the northeast where it dropped torrential rains over Arizona.  In September of that year, 4 tropical storms hit Southern California.  The strongest just missed our coastline making landfall near San Pedro.  It dropped nearly 5 and a half inches of rain in LA in one day and ended up killing 45 people.

Last year in the Eastern Pacific there were 16 named storms which is the average - seven became hurricanes.  In 1992 there were 27 but only 8 in 1977.  As for this year, the prediction is for less than average and the likely-hood is that none will come this far north.  In looking at past data we usually are at our greatest risk when there is a strong El Nino present.  In fact, we've been under the influence of a weak La Nina, which is why our weather has probably been drier than normal the past four winters.  Still, anytime you're dealing with Mother Nature you are always dealing with a certain amount of uncertainty.

For more on San Diego's hurricane, click here, it's an interesting story. 

And, if you'd like the lowdown on San Diego's worst weather on record, go to this site compiled by the National Weather Service

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