Sandy, the recent superstorm that caused the horrific destruction on the East Coast, is a reminder that Mother Nature is not always such a nice lady. We wish everyone affected, a speedy recovery. While tornadoes seem to have a lock on the nation’s interior, when it comes to hurricanes, the southeastern and Atlantic coasts attract the twin catastrophes of wind and water. Archie Stedman of Deming, New Mexico, contacted me, wondering if hurricanes happen in Rocky Point.
ARCHIE: Rocky Point is on the ocean, right?
CAP’N GREG: It’s on the upper Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, but, yes, it is one big honkin’ chunk of water out there.
ARCHIE: So do you get hurricanes?
CAP’N GREG: Not exactly. When they cross the mountains on the Baja side, they lose a lot of power.
ARCHIE: Any ever make it to Rocky Point?
CAP’N GREG: Sure. But when hurricanes weaken, they are typically called tropical storms, and every now and then one will make it here.
ARCHIE: No big deal, huh?
CAP’N GREG: Actually, a very big deal. They may not have the winds associated with full-blown hurricanes, but they bring lots of rain. Like on Labor Day 1970 when leftovers from Hurricane Norma dropped seven inches in southern Arizona and northern Sonora. There was lots of flooding and loss of life. But most of the storms skip Peñasco because they track to the northeast after crossing Baja. I do recall a mean one in the ’90s that left piles of sand in beachside homes. Took off some roofs and knocked down some palm trees, too, but those big ones are few and far between.
ARCHIE: Glad to hear that Rocky Point isn’t in a danger zone.
CAP’N GREG: Not so fast. You know what a caldera is?
ARCHIE: Puerto Rican right-hander who pitched for the Dodgers?
CAP’N GREG: No, a caldera is the crater at the top of a volcano. There’s one 30 miles north of Rocky Point called Pinacate. In fact, In 1970, the Apollo 14 astronauts trained there for their moon landing.
ARCHIE: Wait. What?
CAP’N GREG: And on the Baja side there are lots of calderas from extinct volcanoes. Baja California, that strip of land that runs from about Tijuana all the way to Cabo San Lucas, used to be attached to the Mexican mainland. About 12 million years ago the San Andreas Fault in California got all stirred up and eventually created Baja and the Sea of Cortez. There has been volcanic activity in this area ever since.
CAP’N GREG: Calm down, Arch. The most recent was 11 thousand years ago.
ARCHIE: Had me scared for a minute there, Cap’n Greg. I would hate to get my beer knocked over when a volcano blows.
CAP’N GREG: Not to mention ashes in your shrimp cocktail.
ARCHIE: I think I’ll run down there before the next one.
CAP’N GREG: Better hurry. I feel a rumble right now. Or maybe that’s the chiles rellenos I had last night that are forming a caldera in my tummy.