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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Hurricane in Los Angeles?

Here is the current Pacific satellite image, note the lower right.

Click for a larger image

I might add that the likelihood of a hurricane strength storm striking Southern California is low. Since 1900, only four tropical cyclones have brought gale-force winds to the Southwestern United States. They are an unnamed tropical storm that made landfall near San Pedro in 1939, the remnants of Hurricane Joanne in 1972, the remnants of Hurricane Kathleen in 1976, and Hurricane Nora in 1997 which entered California as a tropical storm.

The storms that do make it close enough to be a threat are often weakened by two facts: cold sea surface temperatures and upper level steering winds that tend to take them away for SoCal. But it’s a fun exercise to discuss the possibility. – Anthony

Hurricanes in Los Angeles?

Guest post by Roger Sowell

A hurricane hitting Los Angeles. No, it hasn’t happened yet, but it could. I am using the same reasoning as the Carbon Is Going to Kill Us crowd, where it is deemed prudent and even mandatory that we take action now to prevent a future catastrophe. AGW believers insist that all mankind (well, except for developing countries, of course!) curtail or stop altogether emitting carbon dioxide, as that may cause ice caps to melt and oceans to rise and population disruption.

There is a hurricane in the Pacific Ocean, headed directly toward Los Angeles. It’s name is Jimena (pronounced him -ay – nuh, accent on the ay). Jimema currently has winds of 135 miles per hour, and is just south of the tip of Baja, California. Its course is to the northwest, up the Baja peninsula.

Judging from the mass confusion a couple of years ago when Houston evacuated ahead of hurricane Rita, Los Angeles might want to start packing and driving today. Houston only had around 1 million people exiting the city, and had at least five freeways on which to do it. Los Angeles has approximately 3 million people, probably closer to 4 million, but the metropolitan area has 18 million, and only three ways out. There is the Interstate 10, going due East; Interstate 5 going North; and highway 101, also going north. I-5 also goes south, but little good that will do since one runs into San Diego and the hurricane.

A hurricane hitting Los Angeles. We must take prudent steps to avoid the certain disaster and destruction from a hurricane. We will not be required to wait 100 years for the results to be in. This hurricane will be here in less than 10 days. We must act today, while there is still time. The science is settled. Hurricanes hitting major population centers are a serious threat. Remember New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Houston and Hurricane Rita. We must mobilize FEMA so they can get their red tape all in order, ready to send trailers and water and food packs to Los Angeles.

The low-lying areas of Southern California are at risk of inundation from the storm surge. Ports and river basins will be swamped with seawater, causing un-told devastation to precious seashore that is a national treasure, as the California Coastal Commission regularly reminds us. A storm surge from a hurricane can be several feet. The California Coastal Commission was in a tizzy recently over the prospect of the ocean rising just one foot, in the next century. Where is the alarm, the hysterical and frantic activity, over a storm surge of 5 to 10 feet in the space of 24 hours?

Where is the clarion call to action from our state and city leaders? Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Villaraigosa, are you watching this hurricane? Have you prepared the state and city and county to deal with this?

Or, are you hoping the hurricane does arrive, and right away, so that the wildfires will finally be put out and the firefighters get some much-needed rest?
Stay tuned, sports fans. This is about to get interesting.

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