Weather in the Foothills

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and winds sing.
I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm,
And the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers
And wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world
As I can.”                                

~ John Muir, ecological thinker, political spokesman and religious prophet


Upon inquiring the morning after Christmas Day as to my sister’s experiences with three school-aged grandchildren, her answer and experience were contained within a single word: “tornado.” Okay, makes sense.

Envisioning boxes, wrapping and bows strewn about, in addition to lost owner’s manuals and game pieces intermingled with strewn about pre-breakfast goodies, one’s living room takes on a resemblance of a storm struck area. But this was not just an analogy; at around 7 a.m. Christmas morning, a small tornado (NWS in Oxnard states a possible microburst) hit the coastal town of Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

An incomplete meteorological algebraic equation … tornado=Kansas and earthquake=California. But California does get tornadoes. They are nowhere as big as the killer storms that hit other parts of the country. But they have caused damage – and sparked surprise – from those who assumed tornadoes were one of the few natural disasters not on the state’s danger list.

Mother Nature gave us a gift – or perhaps more of a reminder – last Saturday morning when swirling winds hit Grover Beach. My eyewitness reporter (sister) told of street signs ripped off their poles, uprooted trees, lifted roofs and one flying pink plastic wading pool. Thankfully, no injuries occurred.

Textbook tornadoes form in the Midwest portion of the country where warm moist Gulf of Mexico air collides with cool, northern air. If these air temperatures intensify and become more polarized, the likelihood of a massive storm forms. From here tornados are created and spin off from the storm. Most occur during the spring and fall.

California tornadoes originate in the Pacific as winter thunderstorms. As some storms approach the coast, the cold air above the ocean water mixes with warmer air on land, resulting in the kind of climate instability that can cause tornadoes. One of the most documented tornadoes in LA County was in 1983. It stripped off part of the roof of the Los Angeles Convention Center before roaring south along Broadway, ripping apart houses, smashing brick storefronts and overturning cars. More than 150 buildings were damaged. Thirty-two people were hurt.

On to the Colorado Boulevard forecast … cold and no rain. A storm system is expected through today (Thursday) bringing, rain, winds and mountain snow. Another one is expected next week.                              

“May your cup always be full … Happy 2022!” 

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