Weather in the Foothills

“Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson


Wild times these are! Last Saturday morning many of us were awakened to the news of being under a tsunami alert. This went into effect after a powerful undersea volcano – the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai – erupted. This happened in the midst of a two-year pandemic that is not yet over. In addition, let’s add last year’s unprecedented in size tornadoes and wildland fires. And it gets better: last week the huge asteroid 1994 PC1 made its closest approach to Earth for the next 200 years at one million miles away.

Last weekend, on the small South Sea island of Tonga, a storm struck that lasted 7½ hours with approximately 400,000 lightning strikes zig-zagged within the water vapor, gas and ash laden 12-mile-high plume. Small islands formed while others disappeared. The death toll is uncertain. The volcanic explosion set off undersea earthquakes that in turn created tsunamis. History gives examples of massive tsunami waves that have struck California’s coastal areas.

Jan. 26, 1700: Using geologic evidence and oral histories from Native Americans, scientists have reconstructed the Cascadia Earthquake at a magnitude of 8 or 9.

Dec. 21, 1812: A tsunami related to a magnitude-7.2 earthquake in the Santa Barbara channel caused flooding and other damage to low-lying areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The temblor itself damaged several missions and Native American villages, while the tsunami was reported as far north as San Francisco. The waves also lifted up a 283-ton ship, which had been searching the coast for otter pelts, pushing up a half mile inland then carrying it back out to sea.

March 11, 2011: Crescent City was hit by tsunami currents generated by the Tōhoku Earthquake in Japan. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the most powerful ever in Japan’s history, and the tsunami combined killed more than 18,000 people. Powerful waves crossed the Pacific Ocean causing $100 million in damage to California ports and harbors, including those in Crescent City and Santa Cruz, more than 400 miles to the south.

What next? Skies will be mostly clear through the next seven days. There will be warming most days and high temperatures will rise to well above normal today, Thursday. Breezy Santa Ana conditions are expected Thursday and Saturday. A cooling trend is expected early next week.           

Now waiting for the winter rains to resume …

Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley
resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service Reach her at