1858 San Diego hurricane
|Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Dissipated||October 2, 1858|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 80 mph (130 km/h) |
|Lowest pressure||994 mbar (hPa); 29.35 inHg|
(corrected sea level)
|Areas affected||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 directly impact California as a hurricane, although other systems have impacted California as tropical storms. The storm caused damage to many homes and other constructions in San Diego. San Pedro experienced heavy rainfall, El Monte experienced high winds that damaged its corn crops and trees, and Los Angeles and Visalia experienced large amounts of rain but low wind. A later estimate indicated that if a similar storm happened in 2004, it would have caused $500 million (2004 USD) in damage.
In late September 1858, a hurricane formed over the eastern Pacific Ocean, concurrent with a moderate El Niño event spanning 1857–58. Unlike most east Pacific storms, this one accelerated toward the north-northeast. On October 2, it neared Southern California while weakening, due to cool water 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- W. H. Quinn and V. T. Neal (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]
- Bill Patzert (October 17, 2012). "Could a Hurricane Ever Strike Southern California?". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
- 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.