John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
But the rash of foul weather probably won't do much to help the state's drought.
Southern California is a special place where the weather's so sunny and pleasant that a spritz of rain can mean gridlock on the highways. So imagine the excitement these past couple days as powerful storms rode into town, dropping ice on the beaches and churning up ethereal funnel clouds.
Photographer Brian Hawkins caught Sunday's pair of funnels spinning off the coast of Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County. Shown above, they look like half-formed water spouts—whipping columns of air and mist that are generally weaker than tornadoes. Squished between them in the distance is a solitary sailboat that was "booking it across the water," writes Hawkins.
Observers on nearby Catalina Island spotted at least one waterspout:
Hawkins reports the funnels were extinguished after about five minutes. But then, on Monday, somebody spotted this wormy apparition in the clouds. Meteorologist Jim Cantore calls it a funnel cloud, though another guy thinks it's more likely a scud cloud. (Another witness verifies a funnel was definitely in the neighborhood.)
What's less in dispute is the white stuff covering Huntington Beach on Monday. It's not snow, but a carpet-bombing of small hailstones:
Just to make a note of it, this rash of foul weather will probably have little effect on California's drought, which is presently afflicting 93 percent of the state.