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Environment

San Diego Records Warmest Year On Record

Average annual mean temperatures from 1940 through 2014 at San Diego's Lindbergh Field.
Susana Tsutsumi
Average annual mean temperatures from 1940 through 2014 at San Diego's Lindbergh Field.
San Diego Records Warmest Year On Record
Last year was San Diego’s warmest since record keeping began in 1872. The average combined high and low temperature at Lindbergh Field was 67.6 degrees — nearly 4 degrees above normal.

Last year was San Diego’s warmest since record keeping on weather began in the city in 1872. The average combined high and low temperature at Lindbergh Field was 67.6 degrees — nearly 4 degrees above normal. The second warmest year ever was in 1984, averaging 67.2 degrees.

Almost every day of 2014, with the exception of a mere 24 days, was warmer than average. The airport’s thermometer hit above the 90-degree mark more than a dozen times; normal is one to two days, according to the National Weather Service.

“I’m not at all surprised,” said Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. Somerville is attending this week the 95th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Phoenix.

“It’s simply the latest piece of evidence that the climate is definitely warming,” Somerville said.

San Diego’s heat was courtesy of a major ridge of high pressure that parked over the region much of the year, trapping warm weather and preventing storm systems from entering.

Somerville said the region has year-to-year temperature variables due to atmospheric circulation patterns, but the overall picture shows increased warming due to human activity.

“There are going to be ups and downs due to natural factors like El Niños and La Niñas. … But if you look at the long-term trend over decades, it’s definitely upward,” Somerville said.

Scientists have also declared 2014 the hottest year globally on record.

The Japan Meteorological Association, one of the four major global temperature record-keepers, reported that 2014’s global average surface temperature was 0.5 degrees greater than that of the period from 1981 to 2010. All 10 of the hottest years on record have come after 1998, which was a strong El Niño year.

“The fact that the world has just hit a new high temperature average and that San Diego had its warmest year on record really ought to help bring this (trend) to people’s attention,” Somerville said.