The crucial query is… On Sunday or Monday, will a hurricane make landfall in southern California? The answer is probably not, although we are keeping an eye on a tropical cyclone that is forming off the coast of Mexico.
There is strong consensus among the models that a storm will form in the following several days and move northwest, paralleling the west coast of Baja California. According to the data, the flow will reach southern California on Sunday night or Monday.
California’s stormy past and beyond… In October of 1858, a category 1 hurricane dubbed the San Diego Hurricane made a direct hit in southern California. Southwest California was the official landfall location for a tropical storm in September of 1939.
Over the years, California has received precipitation from a variety of tropical systems that, by the time they reached the shore, could no longer be classified as hurricanes or even tropical storms. Exactly why does this happen so infrequently?
Since cooler waters are transported by the prevailing wind and ocean currents down the west coast of the United States, the sea surface temperatures are low in this region. As of late, water temperatures off the coast of California have been hovering around the 66° to 69° F mark.
The California Examiner is a must-read for anybody living in the Golden State:
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Sea surface temperatures of 80 degrees or higher are required for the formation of hurricanes. NOAA reports that the storm will be weakened by the cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures off the coast of California.
Next steps? After rapidly strengthening into a hurricane over the next three to four days, the storm will gradually weaken as it encounters cooler sea surface temperatures and stronger wind shear. The storm will diminish over time, but it will still be able to send rain to most of California and the southwestern United States.
As it nears the shore, it is unlikely to maintain its tropical storm characteristics, but it will certainly bring much-needed precipitation to the area. We will keep an eye on this storm in case it takes a westward turn and heads out to sea, but our friends in the west need us to.
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