1858 San Diego hurricane

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1858 San Diego hurricane
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Formed September 1858 (1858-09)
Dissipated October 2, 1858 (1858-10-02)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 85 mph (140 km/h)
Lowest pressure 994 mbar (hPa); 29.35 inHg
(corrected sea level[1])
Fatalities Unknown
Areas affected Extreme Southern California, northwestern Mexico
Part of the pre-1900 Pacific hurricane seasons

The 1858 San Diego hurricane was a very rare California hurricane. It is the only known tropical cyclone to impact California as a hurricane, although other systems impacted California as tropical storms.

Meteorological history[edit]

Late in September, a hurricane formed in the East Pacific Ocean, fueled by the abnormally warm 1857-58 El Niño[2] waters. Unlike most east Pacific storms, this one accelerated towards the north-northeast. On October 2, it neared Southern California while weakening due to cool water and strong wind shear. It just missed making landfall, while it turned to the west-northwest. It approached Santa Catalina Island in the Channel Islands and dissipated. There is some uncertainty to this reconstructed path.[1]


In San Diego, the rain was very heavy, and the property damage was great; many homes lost at least their roofs, and a few even collapsed. In addition, trees were uprooted, and fences destroyed. A recently constructed windmill was also blown away completely. Three schooners, the Plutus, the Lovely Flora, and the X.L., were blown ashore, although only the X.L. suffered major damage.[1]

Rainfall in San Pedro was also heavy, but high winds were not reported. Parts of the embankment in the city were washed away, causing only around US$100 ($2725.77 today) in damage. The yacht Medora was washed ashore. Many reports claimed that the yacht was irreparable, but it was later claimed that the damage wasn't actually that great and could be repaired.[clarification needed] A barge was destroyed, as was a large portion of the San Pedro wharf.[1]

El Monte was buffeted by high winds, damaging corn crops and trees. Los Angeles and Visalia noted large amounts of rain, as much as 7 inches (180 mm), but low winds.[1]

Two researchers with NOAA Michael Chenoweth and Christopher Landsea reconstructed the path of the hurricane using accounts from newspapers of the strong winds. They estimated that if a similar storm were to have hit in 2004, it would have caused around US$500 million in damage.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Chenoweth, Michael; Landsea, Christopher (2004). "The San Diego Hurricane of 2 October 1858" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 85 (11): 1689–1697. Bibcode:2004BAMS...85.1689C. doi:10.1175/BAMS-85-11-1689. 
  2. ^ ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/climate1500ad/ch32.txt
  3. ^ Chenoweth, Michael; Landsea, Chris (2005-01-11). The San Diego Hurricane of October 2, 1858. AMS Forum: Living in the Coastal Zone, 11 January 2005. Retrieved from http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/presentations/ams-sandiego.ppt#14.