Newport Beach sets new rainfall record

A person walks through the rain in Mile Square Park.
A person walks through the rain in Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

A new rainfall record was set in Newport Beach on Wednesday, ousting the old record set almost a century ago, according to the National Weather Service.

About 2.6 inches of rain fell in Newport Beach on Wednesday, breaking the previous 24-hour rainfall record of 1.5 inches set in 1930.

“It has been one of the more wetter winters, especially compared to the last couple of years,” said meteorologist Casey Oswant with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “The past three winters have not been very rainy, but when we get into the winter of 2019, Anaheim, for example ... was quite rainy with their annual total at 25.35 inches, with much of that rain falling between December and March. So far this calendar year, we’re looking at 13.93 inches for Anaheim.”

In Newport Beach, the city has recorded 11.3 inches of rain so far this calendar year, compared to the annual average during the same period of around 6 inches.

Oswant noted 2019 was the wettest winter in recent memory.

This winter’s storms have caused about $1.6 million in damage to the Seal Beach Pier and destroyed a lifeguard tower in Laguna Beach, according to a statement by representatives for Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, in addition to being a cause for the partial collapse of a Dover Shores residence that was demolished Thursday and a landslide in San Clemente on Wednesday.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in response to the winter weather, and Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded his state of emergency to include Orange, Alpine and Trinity counties that same day, meaning that 43 of the state’s 58 counties are now under the declaration. U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) also requested Wednesday that Orange County be included in the federal emergency declaration announced last Friday.

Oswant said rain is expected to return in the early or middle part of next week. Much of the rain is expected to fall on Tuesday, potentially into Wednesday, though the timing is unclear.

“Right now, it looks dry, but we can’t completely rule anything out for the end of March, like the last week of March,” Oswant said. “Our rainiest months are December, January, February, March. Once we get into April, climatologically, it’s going to be less likely that we’ll see rain.”

This weekend is expected to remain fairly dry with some sunshine coming through Friday and Saturday afternoons. Highs on Saturday are forecast to reach the low 70s for parts of inland Orange County and the mid-60s on the coast, with lows across the county in the low 50s.

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