The Pineapple Express is a non-technical term for a meteorological phenomenon characterized by a strong and persistent flow of moisture and associated with heavy rain and snow from the waters near the Hawaiian Islands and extending to locations along the Pacific coast of North America, mainly California. Such weather patterns set up every few years during the winter, the winter is actually the rainy season on the west coast of the US. In February of 1980 an extreme version of this pattern set up and lasted for almost a week reaching its height on February 19. Rain had been falling in Los Angles on Feburary 13th, in the first in a series of storms pushed along by the Pineapple Express. Downtown L.A. recorded more than 12" of rain from the 13th to the 19th. In the mountains south of Monterey, more than 22 inches of rain totaled by the 19th. Unofficially, 19 deaths were attributed to the storms in Southern California alone, with more than $100 million in damage, $325 million in today’s dollars. Estimates in Arizona indicate at least 4 storm related deaths and an additional $35 million in damage. There was also flooding in Arizona, especially in Phoenix. Shortly after 2:00 PM on February 19, 1980 a tornado touched down at the Fresno Airport, which broke the plate glass windows and damaged the roof at the terminal building. Trees were uprooted and cars overturned.
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