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Nine years of Tidbits


This installment marks the beginning of the ninth year of Weather


It’s been a great ride and everyday I appreciate having been given


the opportunity by Jerry Ledbetter to write for the Coastline. I

wouldn’t mind going another nine years at all. Thanks, also, to Stu

and the L.A. Times for letting me keep this thing going. I want to

keep the quality there, even improve on it.


Things have been pretty quiet here on the home front.

The first third of March has been dry and seasonable.

It’s normally the last “serious” month of our rainy season with an

average of 2 1/3 inches. We’ll need above normal precipitation this

month to keep up with our annual norm.

Right now we’re at about 9 inches on the season, normal is about


We’ve had quite a few wet March months over the past, say 20



In 1983, more than 10 inches fell. In 1986, about 6 inches. There

was the miracle March of ’91 with 9 1/2 inches.

Winter of 2002-03 saw ocean temps actually average a degree or two

above the seasonal norm, running mostly 58-60 degrees from Point

Conception to Point Loma.

Sitting here at the Orange Inn with Rod and the Dharma bums

telling stories about past El Ninos -- for those of us who were


around on March 1, 1983, well, that was an unforgettable day. Three

and a half inches of rain fell between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., with 12- to

15-foot storm surf with a 6-foot-2 high tide. Barometer dropped down

to 990 millibars (29.21 in.) in a place where it rarely sinks below

1000 millibars (29.50 in.).

Hail, some 1 1/4 inches in diameter, fell at 9:30 a.m. At 3:30

p.m., an old Chevy Luv truck comes popping out the chute at Main

Beach having washed down the canal from way up Laguna Canyon.

That 3 1/2 inches was only a harbinger, as a total of 10.70 inches

would fall in March of ’83. That one day total was only 3/4 of an

inch less than we received all last season.

And finally, your Tidbitter gets to put a couple of paintings in a

real art gallery starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, and

running through April 19.

I get to be on a wall with some real masters like Bill Ogden, John

Chaney, Pat Tobin, Donita Lloyd, Ryan Gourley, Frog, Sly Dog, Marcel,

and the list goes on.

The theme is Laguna Home-grown Surf Art. And Will Pennartz, the

proprietor, is doing a wonderful thing to give these painters their

day in the sun. It’s been a long time coming.

Suzie Harrison from our paper will give you a complete rundown of

the event.

Stay tuned!

* DENNIS McTIGHE is a Laguna Beach resident. He earned a

bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from UCSD and was an Air Force

weatherman at Hickman Air Force Base in Hawaii.