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Los Angeles County
On this date in 1939 the only tropical storm to make landfall in California in the 20th Century did so with its center of circulation passing over Long Beach, CA. That this storm system was even able to survive the typically cold waters along the coast of California was due to the presence of an ongoing El Nino climate condition. This tropical system formed ten days earlier off the coast of Central America and subsequently strengthened to hurricane force before weakening to strong tropical storm force with maximum sustained winds near minimal Category One hurricane intensity. The storm brought destructive winds and rains to the coastal waters and valleys and mountains of Southern California from Ventura to Orange County. Numerous ships sank along the California Coast killing 48 people while 6 people died on beaches and dozens more were killed inland due to flooding. The later category of fatalities is difficult to count due deadly flooding the day before tropical storm made landfall. It is also worth noting that these storms ended a heat wave that killed 90 people. In the Long Beach area the storm's winds blew out innumerable windows. Coastal flooding occurred all up and down the coast of the LA Basin. The pier at Point Mugu was destroyed. The Los Angeles River was transformed into a raging torrent. Power outages were widespread throughout the Los Angeles Basin and the City of Los Angeles experienced widespread street and building flooding and stranded cars. Coastal areas of Southern California were cluttered with debris. Even the Mojave and Colorado Deserts (high and low deserts) experienced damaging floods as rail lines were washed out near Needles and Indio. Agricultural damage was extreme in the Coachella Valley due to flooding. As a result of this storm the National Weather Bureau (forerunner to the National Weather Service) established an office in Southern California.
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