May 12, 1998

Another record breaking day in May....

We had .88 of an inch of rain here in Turlock on Tuesday afternoon, which brought our May rainfall total to a record 2.42 inches (old record 1.68 inches in 1995). Our high reached only 56F, which is the coolest high I've recorded here in May since the 57F high we had on May 1, 1991. Modesto and Stockton also set a monthly rainfall record for May on Tuesday as well.

Much of this area's rain came in a narrow band of rain that parked itself over the area late Tuesday morning. From time to time, radar showed some "kinks" in this band - most notably over Modesto in the noon-1pm timeframe. Wednesday's edition of the Modesto Bee reported that wind damage occurred in west Modesto at the corner of Carpenter Rd and California Ave around noon Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon, I drove up to this area to see the damage.

The only damage I found was at a property on the SE corner of Carpenter and California. A 50-ft section of a plywood fence at the northwest corner of the property had been flattened in a northerly fashion. Extending east from this flattened section of fence about 200 feet was a row of small trees leaning in a northerly direction. I covered a 1 1/2 mi section of California Ave, a 2 1/2 mi section of Carpenter Rd, and a neighborhood just to the SE of the damaged property, but did not see anything else. Even the vineyard along the north side of California Ave - no more than 30 ft away from the damaged property - showed no signs of being touched. It looked to me that a microburst was responsible for knocking down the fence and bending the trees - a blast of southerly winds around 40-50 mph. This was the second occurrence of wind damage in Modesto this year - an apparent microburst downed trees in a 1 1/2 block section of northwest Modesto on Feb 14.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Livermore Airport (LVK), and Sacramento International Airport (SMF) each reported a funnel cloud on Tuesday afternoon. Travis Air Force Base (SUU) even reported a tornado! I've never seen so many funnel cloud/tornado observations from CA airports in a single day.

Speaking of weather observations at airports, Modesto Airport (MOD) commissioned their ASOS on Wednesday morning, ending years of manual weather observations there. I don't like ASOS for a variety of reasons, but I do like the fact that MOD will now report rainfall and obs 24 hrs a day - something this area has been without since Castle Air Force Base (MER) closed in Sep 1995.

Now that it's getting late in the season, it looks like I've probably had my last storm chase day this least in California. I'll be out in the Plains chasing from the 21st-27th.