Satellite imagery spotted a phenomenon Wednesday off the coast of San Diego that caught the eyes of meteorologists at the National Weather Service.
A spin of low clouds called a “Catalina eddy” was sighted, and the NWS gave it a shout out.
“Satellite photo of a well defined small eddy near the San Diego and Orange County border
#cawx,” the agency’s San Diego office tweeted out around 6 p.m.
— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) June 14, 2018
A Catalina eddy is a counterclockwise circulation, similar to an area of low pressure, that can develop off the Southern California coast. The eddy is named after Santa Catalina Island located in the “Bight of California,” the mostly concave portion of the Southern California coast running from Point Conception to San Diego. It’s in this area that a Catalina eddy forms, and the system is often located above or near the island.
A Catalina eddy develops when another area of low pressure develops over deserts in response to heat and when there is also an area of high pressure over the eastern Pacific Ocean, according to meteorologists.
The weather phenomenon can form any time of year, but June is peak season. So that June gloom that’s been hanging over San Diego can be partially blamed on the eddy.
Although a Catalina eddy’s vortex is usually small, it can extend into inland valley areas and occasionally into desert regions.
The NWS is advising that dense fog will affect San Diego coastal waters through Thursday morning.
“Mariners should be prepared for abrupt visibility changes down to one nautical mile or less,” the agency warned. “Reduce speeds and be on the lookout for exposed rocks and other vessels, including large ships in the shipping lanes. Use radar or GPS navigation if available, and consider remaining in harbor if such equipment is unavailable.”
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