It brought several hours of hurricanes and hurricane winds to an area stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles. Southern California has only been hit by an intact hurricane once in recorded history. That hurricane approached San Diego on October 2, 1858, as a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Classified as a simple tropical storm, the 1939 system was the only cyclone to make landfall in California in the 20th century.
For a time, meteorologists doubted that a real hurricane (a cyclone with sustained winds of at least 64 knots or 74 mph) could ever reach Southland. But recently, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration investigated the historical record and discovered evidence that such storms are a real (albeit statistically unlikely) threat.