Skip to main content

It’s Not Your Imagination — Humidity Is Getting Worse In San Diego

A surfer walking on a crowded beach in San Diego in this undated picture.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A surfer walking on a crowded beach in San Diego in this undated picture.

It’s part of the reason so many of us love living here so much, the beautiful sunny weather. But inject humidity into the picture and the sunny becomes sticky.

That’s when what meteorologists call the “heat index” comes into play.

Listen to this story by John Carroll

Some people call it the "real feel" temperature.

But are we really feeling more humid weather in San Diego over the last several years?

Meteorologists at the local National Weather Service office in Rancho Bernardo said yes. "In recent years, it has definitely been more humid than normal," said meteorologist Brandt Maxwell.

But why? "The reason for that is we’ve had much above normal sea surface temperatures along our coast during summer," Maxwell explained.

Higher sea surface temperatures leads to more evaporation and that in turn charges the air with humidity.

But there’s more to it than that.

"We’ve also had a lot of fog recently at night and once that burns off you’ve got some of the mugginess associated with that lingering," Maxwell said.

The summer of 2018, you might recall, was particularly muggy.

"Last year, we set an all-time record ever for anywhere along the southern California coast at Torrey Pines buoy. We had a sea surface temperature of 81 degrees," Maxwell pointed out.

A summer monsoon is moving in this week which will make things even more humid.

But is it a long-term trend?

Maxwell said there’s no way to tell, yet.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

Many Southern California beaches are gradually disappearing, and communities along the coast, like Oceanside, are looking for ways to save the sand. Plus, San Diego congressional representatives have introduced new bills aimed at tackling the issue of Tijuana River pollution, thousands of bikes and scooters have been impounded by the city during Comic-Con and humidity is getting worse in San ... Read more →

Aired: July 23, 2019 | Transcript

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.