Tropical Storm Kay unleashed intense winds, flooding rains, and even scorching temperatures to drought-stricken California on Friday after bringing deadly impacts to Mexico.
As the storm was downgraded to a tropical rainstorm on Saturday, thousands were still without power in California and scenes of havoc were left behind following the storm’s record rainfall.
It wasn’t just the precipitation from the storm that was notable as it took a historically close track nearing the Golden State. Kay marked the closest approach to Southern California from the Pacific in the last 50 years. The next to last point tracked by the National Hurricane Center on Sept. 10 was 130 miles offshore from San Diego, making it the closest pass to the city from the ocean side since records began in 1949, according to Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather senior weather editor and meteorologist. The runner-up was Tropical Storm Hyacinth in 1972, which was a little farther out to sea but slightly farther north.
At least two tropical storms made a closer approach to San Diego over land. An unnamed tropical storm in 1959 came as close as 100 miles southeast of San Diego near Agua Caliente, Mexico. Tropical Storm Kathleen was tracked to near Rancho San Isidro, Mexico, 120 miles southeast of San Diego.
While the impacts of tropical storms typically don’t reach California, San Diego State University Professor Dr. Pat Abbott told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell that the extended heat wave in Southern California allowed Kay to move closer than usual.
“Our ocean water comes down from Alaska, and that cold water drains the energy out of these tropical storms and hurricanes,” Abbott said. “Now, right now, we’re just going through an extended heat wave, heat period, so we have ocean temperatures out here above 80 degrees. That provides some energy that allows these tropical storms to come farther north.”
Tropical Storm Kay delivered nearly a year’s worth of rain across Southern California, shattering daily rainfall records. In San Diego, 0.63 of an inch of rain was measured on Friday, which crushed the previous record of 0.09 of an inch set back in 1976. This was also the wettest day in the city since Dec. 14, 2021, when 0.98 of an inch fell.
San Miguel Times