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San Diego’s Christmas Gift: A Feast of Water

A look at the past week.

— Wednesday finally brought an end to a storm that dumped a huge amount of rain on San Diego County. Rainfall around here typically rises in sync with elevation. This weather system gave 4.3 inches of rain to the airport, Lindbergh Field, which is right on San Diego Bay. Santa Ysabel, about 35 miles inland and 3,000 feet up, got 11 inches. Mount Palomar, 5,600 feet in elevation, won the prize by getting 18.2 inches of rain. So says the National Weather Service.

People in the East and the Midwest don’t understand why Californians become giddy when the heavens open up. The meager amount of rainfall in San Diego makes sunshine abundant and mosquitoes less of a nuisance. But it forces us to obsess about water shortages and steal water wherever we can, draining underwater aquifers or killing off wetlands. That puts us in a lousy mood.

But when it rains the plants grow and wildlife flourishes. City streets gleam in the night, making San Diego look practically romantic.

On Wednesday I chatted with a few people who walked down to the flooded San Diego River in Mission Valley, where rising water submerged cars and closed the many roads that cross the valley. None of the folks I talked to saw their homes flood, so their spirits were high. “I’ve never seen the rain like this!” was a common refrain that was delivered in a joyous tone.

Take a look at some of the photos I took of the rain storm. While that was going on, some parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California were getting more than five meters of snow. Weather-wise, it’s been a very good year.

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