California’s “coastal eddy”

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
While in Los Angeles recently, I heard of a “coastal eddy.” What is it?

Jim Chambers

Dear Jim,
The coastal eddy has a strong effect on the weather of Los Angeles. It is strongest in periods of well-organized northwest winds. The term “eddy” refers to any rotational swirl in a moving fluid. This particular eddy of sea water develops as southward moving Pacific Ocean water rounds Point Conception on the coast. The California coastline curves sharply there and a swirl of relatively cool sea water curls into the water adjacent to Los Angeles. The chill of this coastal eddy deepens a cloudy, drizzly marine layer that hugs the ocean surface by day and moves inland at night and in the early morning. Frequent cloudiness, known as “June gloom” begins, a by-product of the eddy.

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