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1858 San Diego hurricane

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1858 San Diego Hurricane
Surface weather analysis and track of the storm approaching California
Meteorological history
FormedSeptember 1858 (1858-09)
DissipatedOctober 2, 1858 (1858-10-02)
Category 1 hurricane
1-minute sustained (SSHWS/NWS)
Highest winds80 mph (130 km/h)
Lowest pressure994 mbar (hPa); 29.35 inHg
(corrected sea level)
Overall effects
Damage$100.00 (1858 USD)
Areas affectedSouthern California, northwestern Mexico

Part of the pre-1900 Pacific hurricane seasons

The 1858 San Diego hurricane was a very rare hurricane that impacted Southern California. It is the only known tropical cyclone to directly impact California as a hurricane, although other systems have impacted California as tropical storms. The storm caused considerable damage to many homes and other structures in southern California, mainly around San Diego.[2] A later estimate indicated that if a similar storm happened in 2004, it would have caused $500 million (2004 USD) in damage.

Meteorological history


In late September 1858, a hurricane formed over the eastern Pacific Ocean, concurrent with a moderate El Niño event spanning 1857–58.[3][4] Unlike most east Pacific storms, this one accelerated toward the north-northeast. On October 2, it neared Southern California while weakening, due to cool sea surface temperatures and strong wind shear. The hurricane just missed making landfall, while turning to the west-northwest. The storm approached Santa Catalina Island in the Channel Islands and dissipated later on that day. There is some uncertainty to this reconstructed path.[1]



In San Diego, heavy rain fell, and property damage was significant; many homes lost 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 ($3,100.02 in 2019) in damage. The yacht Medora was washed ashore. Many reports claimed that the yacht was irreparable, but it was later claimed that the damage was not serious 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 wind strength as low.[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.[5]



The hurricane was the only hurricane in recorded history known to impact California.[6] Due to the cold water California Current tropical cyclones typically weaken, diminishing the storms' strength below the tropical storm level.[7]

See also



  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. ^ "Remembering the San Diego Hurricane of 1858 | The Weather Channel - Articles from The Weather Channel | weather.com". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  3. ^ Quinn, W. H.; Neal, V. T. (1992). "The Historical record of El Niño events in Climate since AD 1500" (.TXT). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 18, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Patzert, Bill (October 17, 2012). "Could a Hurricane Ever Strike Southern California?". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Hurricane or tropical storm in California? It's not impossible". The Mercury News. 2022-09-09. Retrieved 2023-01-19.[dead link]
  7. ^ Chenoweth, Michael (27 June 2004). "The San Diego Hurricane of 2 October 1858" (PDF). American Meteor. 1 (1): 9.