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Weather

Stormpocalypse Is a Hoax

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Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 7:05 AM
click to enlarge JOISEYBOYY/LA WEEKLY FLICKR POOL
When it comes to this week's storms, there's plenty to be excited about.

We're in the midst of a historic drought, so every drop counts. Today's front could bring up to six inches of rain in some parts of Los Angeles County, more than we've seen in almost three years. And, well, snow! (Not here; in the mountains.)

See also: Wettest Night in Nearly 3 Years Coming to L.A.

But one website's proclamation that today's precipitation will comprise a storm of historic proportions with "tornado dynamics" is well, BS. Allegedly:

The website Southern California Weather Authority made the prediction this week. It compared today's weather to the epic, El Niño storms of 1983:
Southern California is about to have one of the strongest dynamical storms in many years, with all the ingredients there for a severe weather event, including the possibility of tornado dynamics. Dynamics like this have not been seen in Southern California since March 1983 ... 
Maybe not. We phoned Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard, and she laughed. Literally.

"I don't know about that," she said. "It's going to be strong. We got wind, we got snow, intense rain ... We're talking about a two-day storm here."

But 1983? Guys paddling their surfboards down the coastal streets?

Nah. The best the National Weather Service can do is say that this will be the wettest storm since March 20, 2011, which is impressive enough for us.

Bartling wouldn't disparage the Southern California Weather Authority, saying only, "I can't comment."

Someone who did comment was the Daily Kos' "weatherdude," who alleges that the site's publisher, identified as Kevin Martin, is "a fake 'meteorologist' who thrives on creating hoax weather forecasts in order to drive page hits to his website for ad revenue ..."

And still we sent him some traffic anyway. We even reached out to see if he would comment. He didn't get back to us.

Enjoy the rain. Just don't call it historic.

Update: 

Kevin Martin contacted us Friday after we'd already gone to press. We've updated this post to include a statement from him. Here are his thoughts on the matter:

I was not comparing the flooding to the El Niño storms of 1983. Instead, the current storm's position and strength at the surface is like a single storm that happened in early March 1983, with the same dynamics for severe weather and tornadoes as in that storm.

We are not done yet. Another round of storms hit tomorrow, and the low-level jet is backed again, with instability this time. This may bring another round of severe thunderstorms to the region, probably even worse than today's storms. A reader at Southern California Weather Authority.com Facebook Page posted a possible tornado this afternoon. It may have been a very weak tornado.

I was called out by other sites because I predicted severe storms and tornadoes with this storm ... But at the last minute the National Weather Service, who did not predict this storm back when I did on February 23, decided to go with the forecast I had put out initially.


Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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