Major Pacific Storm Nikita is a Category Five system with now room to upgrade to a six, the highest on the Southern California Weather Force scale as the latest model dynamics have pegged higher severe thunderstorm values in portions of the forecast area surrounding Los Angeles. The shape, origin, and direction of travel of the system is on par in tornado dynamics to March 1983’s storm, which brought an EF2 tornado through Los Angeles County. Read on more for details and if you’ll be affected by these dynamics …
The system is an unusual one, but not unheard of. The way the system is coming into Southern California is the novelty Nikita will hold and many will remember this system as it will impact a number of people with various events from flooding, severe thunderstorms, and even tornadoes. It is very rare for a trough to dip this far south and so far west of our region before moving due east into our area. Such troughs that do that are similar to the Great Plains like Texas and Oklahoma. Usually our storms dive in from the west-northwest or northwest, not giving them enough time to gather the dynamics needed for major thunderstorms, producing severe weather.
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Major Pacific Storm Nikita however is such a rare system that the last time a storm came in due west to east over us was in 2006. Then, 100 mph wind gusts on a severe storm line hit Orange County. This one looks similar, but more potent.
The system will start to affect the San Luis Obispo to Vandenberg Air Force Base zones on Monday night. From what I can see on my model the red shading hitting that coast means that strong thunderstorms are likely, however the tornado value does not start till Santa Barbara proper… so a severe thunderstorm watch would be issued for VBRG to SLO as a result… still look like an extremely potent system with damaging wind gusts along the front up there.
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As the night moves along, the tornado dynamics become stronger with low level shear, instability, and lifting all coming together through Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange County. The tornado model today that I’ll release on the member section soon shows a light blue value over the Western Los Angeles Basin. This means EF2 tornado. The shading is over the exact area of the March 1983 Los Angeles F2 Tornado.
Today’s model extends thunderstorm dynamics into the entire Inland Empire and developing dynamics (not shown on the model) into Northern and Central San Diego County. The storm has to come in a bit further south to give Downtown San Diego Thunderstorms at the moment, but it bears watching.
As I see it, I’ll need severe thunderstorm warnings for the Vandenberg / San Luis Obispo zones, including the Inland Empire. I’ll need Tornado Watches pending for the Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange areas. Upper divergence should be sufficient for thunderstorms in the Kern County zones as well.
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This article was only for tornado/thunderstorm dynamics. If you’re out of those dynamics in the mountain/desert areas, please visit the earlier article
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