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Study: Fewer Rainy Days Ahead For San Diego

Evening Edition

California is experiencing one of the driest years on record. On average, San Diego gets anywhere from 10 to 15 wet weather events a year. So far, according to the National Weather Service we've only had four storms come through the region since Jan. 1.

And a new study says San Diegans could be seeing even fewer rainy days ahead.

Scripps Insitution of Oceanography

World map of average mean change in frequency of dry days (days/year) by 2060–2089.

Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography say by the end of the century California could get anywhere from five to 10 more dry days every year.

In other parts of the world, like the Mediterranean, they say computer models show as many as 30 more days without rain.

But will having fewer rainy days mean less annual rainfall?

Not exactly, says Scripps meteorologist Alexander Gershunov.

"We expect to see more intense extreme rainfall events likely because of climate change, which will amount to little change in annual rainfall," he said.

In other words, when it does rain, it's going to pour and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Having fewer and far-between rainy days could impact the environment significantly, increase risk of coastal pollution and flooding, and make it even more difficult to predict annual rainfall year to year.

“Changes in intensity of precipitation events and duration of intervals between those events will have direct effects on vegetation and soil moisture,” said Stephen Jackson, director of the U.S. Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, which co-funded the study.

Scripps researchers say climate change is to blame for the change in weather pattern.

They also hope studies like these will lead to greater efforts to lessen the future impacts of climate change.

“Looking at changes in the number of dry days per year is a new way of understanding how climate change will affect us that goes beyond just annual or seasonal mean precipitation changes, and allows us to better adapt to and mitigate the impacts of local hydrological changes,” Suraj Polade said, a postdoctoral researcher who works with Scripps climate scientists Dan Cayan, David Pierce, Alexander Gershunov and Michael Dettinger, who are co-authors of the study.

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