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Raging California Storms

by Ava Lantis

Already, only two months into 2023, more than 20 people have died due to the “atmospheric river” affecting almost every part of California. This atmospheric river also is known as the “Pineapple Express,” which has led to approximately five inches of rain falling on California in a span as short as 24 hours. The entire West Coast has suffered greatly from the Pineapple Express, experiencing tremendous amounts of flooding, winds, and overall damages throughout January and even continuing into February.

Flooded Mission Center Road near the San Diego River on 1/23/2023

Locally, San Diego hasn’t been spared from the back-to-back storms raging throughout the region. These storms have created dangerously large waves and strong rip currents across San Diego’s beaches. Even visitors to the city have been impacted, as the severe weather has forced them to seek alternate forms of transportation to ensure their safety. Although these conditions may seem minimal in comparison to areas such as Northern California, which are suffering from much harsher conditions and more damage, that does not take away from the fact that storms have also heavily impacted San Diegan citizens’ daily routines and overall way of life.

In 2022, January and February were two of the driest months in California history with only 0.16 inches of rain recorded. However, in 2023, San Diego experienced 1.98 inches of rain in the month of January alone, not only widely surpassing the former year’s average, but also earning it the title of the wettest month since February 2005.

Surf at La Jolla Cove in January 2023

The weather changes are remarkable and also come with their own consequences, as seen at California's beaches. Some areas such as Mavericks Beach in El Granada have seen waves as tall as 60 feet, and in some areas of San Diego, waves averaged a massive interval of 20-25 feet tall. These effects go further than wave height, as they also affect surfers, divers, seals, and marine life that faces the weather head on. San Diego and the rest of California is expected to move past the Pineapple Express and return to the warmer and drier normalcy that the state is used to.


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