Weather Watch

Remembering all those lost at sea this Memorial Day

A while ago, I was researching summer storms for the Weather Watch column. I checked my precipitation database and found a couple of significant summer rains that sparked my curiosity, so I went to the San Luis Obispo County Library and scanned the microfiche of past issues of the Telegram-Tribune looking for stories on how these systems affected the county.

As I was reading a story about Hurricane Darby, which developed off the coast of Baja in 1992 and produced a light but steady rain along the Central Coast during an entire weekend in July, another story caught my eye.

I have been haunted by that story ever since.

A 9-year-old girl from Monterey County drowned in Nacimiento Lake while keeping her 4-year-old sister afloat long enough to be rescued back in July 1992.

I could only imagine the amount of love and devotion that Kala Ryan had for her younger sister. According to the article, Kala was playing in a rubber raft with her 4-year-old sister, Kelsea, when the raft overturned and blew out of their reach.

Aaron Henkel of Grover City (the name of Grover Beach at the time) jumped heroically into the water, reached Kelsea and pulled her to safety. But he was unable to grab Kala, who had kept her younger sister afloat during the rescue. The Sheriff’s Department dive team found Kala’s body a few hours later.

I served in the Navy and witnessed heroic actions by members of our armed services, but Kala’s story resonates with me, probably because I have a daughter who is about the same age. Looking back over the history of our great nation, God only knows the true extent of the loss of those we honor during Memorial Day who made the ultimate sacrifice.

There are meaningful Memorial Day observances planned throughout the county Monday to honor the service members who sacrificed everything in order to preserve our freedom. One is the Lost at Sea Memorial at the Cayucos Pier. It’s dedicated to all those lost at sea: military, recreational and commercial.

We simply gather at the base of the pier for a brief service by Navy chaplain Bill Huston and walk together out over the Pacific Ocean and remember those who never returned. Kala, who ascended to the angels way too soon, will be one of those that I will remember on this day.

Weather forecast

Most of this spring has been characterized by below normal temperatures and persistently strong northwesterly (onshore) winds, but a change in the weather pattern is on the way.

The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, even though the official start isn’t until the summer solstice June 21.

As if on cue, the upper-level charts are indicating the storm track shifting far to the north and a strong ridge of high pressure developing over California. This condition will produce absolutely beautiful weather this Memorial Day weekend, with plenty of sunshine and above normal temperatures.

Temperatures in the North County will reach the high 80s to low 90s by this afternoon. Increasing afternoon northwesterly (onshore) winds will keep temperatures in the coastal valleys mostly in the low to mid-80s range. Gentle to moderate (8 to 18 mph) northeasterly (offshore) winds this morning will allow temperatures along the beaches to reach the low to mid-70s before the afternoon northwesterly (onshore) winds cool the coastal areas.

Temperatures will be cooler Monday and Tuesday, as a low pressure system pushes through the northern half of the state and the marine layer returns along the coastline and surges into the coastal valleys.

A warming trend will develop later this week in the interior, with high temperatures reaching the low to mid-90s in the North County.

The season’s first 100 degree readings in the interior of San Luis Obispo County could develop by next Sunday. These warm temperatures will cause the thermal low over the Central Valley of California to intensify and will produce a more persistent marine layer along the coast.

Surf report

The Cape San Martin NOAA marine buoy about 55 nautical miles west-northwest of Morro Bay returned to service late last week and is now providing wind, pressure, temperature and wave data for the Central Coast. Seawater temperatures will range between 49 and 52 degrees through Friday.

The medium and long-range surface charts and models are indicating little change in the current surf through this week.

A pattern of 5- to 7-foot northwesterly (310-degree deep-water) sea and swell (with a 5- to 11-second period) developing during the afternoon hours, decreasing to 4 to 6 feet during night and morning hours will continue through Friday.

Arriving from the Southern Hemisphere:

A 1- to 2-foot Southern Hemisphere (205-degree deep-water) swell (with a 16- to 18-second period) will arrive along our coastline Tuesday, increasing to 2 to 3 feet (with a 15- to 17-second period) Wednesday and Thursday.

A very intense storm will develop near Cape Horn, South America, but is too far east to affect weather on the Central Coast.

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John Lindsey is a media relations representative for PG&E. He is also a local weather expert and has lived along the Central Coast for more than 23 years. If you have a question, send him an e-mail at