Weather in the Foothills

“The whole heavens seemed closing in with bank upon bank of dark, heavy, ominous-looking clouds,”
reported the Daily Alta California, Oct. 2, 1858

These words are from a historical newspaper account. They tell of an all-but-forgotten hurricane that occurred 171 years ago on Oct. 2, 1858. The tropical storm of 1939, written about in last week’s Weather in the Foothills, was tame in comparison.

In an age before satellite images or even weather balloons, the storm took the Southland by surprise. The keeper of San Diego’s tide gauge was the first to notice the storm’s intensity when his barometer plummeted several degrees below the record low. Hurricane-force winds at 75 mph, calculated by the documented destruction, commenced.

Ships dragged their anchors in the heavy seas, becoming beached. Moving onto shore, powerful gusts blew down houses and uprooted trees.

The hurricane skirted San Diego following the coastline north to Los Angeles where it dumped torrential rains and ravaged the city’s harbor at San Pedro. The tempest was shorted-lived; after reaching Los Angeles, the relatively cool coastal waters soothed its rage. It wasn’t exactly a Hollywood ending; even so, the residents of the adobe town were at the edge of their seats until the calm at the end of the storm.

Tomorrow and through the weekend a warming trend is expected; valley locations could hit triple digits. Then crash, bang – early next week temperatures will fall to the mid-70s – almost 25 degrees! Cloudy, cool weather will take us through the week.

Autumn is in the air!


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