The Hurricane of 1939, Newport Beach

6 Mar

This video, a gift to our local nautical museum, just got posted to YouTube.

The carnage begins about 3 minutes in, if you’re just into carnage.

It’s bizarre to watch this on the harbor I grew up on, which is usually a very mellow place, and hasn’t had a hurricane since, well, 1939. I’ve only seen waves break inside the harbor a few times in my life, namely the Swell of 1983, when The Wedge was breaking at well over twenty feet.

My dad was six years old in 1939, and he remembers it well.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“The 1939 California tropical storm, also called the 1939 Long Beach tropical storm, El Cordonazo, The Lash of St. Francis was a tropical cyclone that hit Southern California in September, 1939. Formerly a hurricane, it was the only tropical storm to make landfall in California in the twentieth century. The only other known tropical cyclone to directly affect California is the 1858 San Diego Hurricane, and only three other eastern Pacific tropical cyclones have caused gale-force winds in the continental United States. The tropical storm caused heavy flooding, leaving many dead, mostly at sea.”

This article was syndicated from The Adventures of the Vessel Condesa


  1. Mary Alice Wittnebert

    Hi, Clark — my great-uncle Tom Broadway had a boatyard in Newport Beach from at least 1920 forward — I found an online reference to somebody buying one of his boats, called snowbirds I think. He lost everything in the storm. This was a fascinating video to watch — I was wondering whether you’d ever heard of him and his boats?

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