1858 San Diego hurricane

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1858 San Diego hurricane
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
1858 California hurricane.png
Surface weather analysis of the storm approaching California
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. 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 stated that if a similar storm happened in 2004, it would have caused $500 million in damage.

Meteorological history

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 ($2735 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


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  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.