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San Diego Within Reach Of Yearly Rainfall Average Despite Drought

Students walk to school during a morning downpour on Dec. 12, 2014 in San Diego, California.
Susan Murphy
Students walk to school during a morning downpour on Dec. 12, 2014 in San Diego, California.

San Diego Within Reach Of Yearly Rainfall Average Despite Drought
California continues to be immersed in a drought, but oddly enough San Diego’s Lindbergh Field is a little more than one inch away from reaching its 10.15-inch annual rainfall average.

California continues to be immersed in a drought, but oddly enough San Diego’s Lindbergh Field is a little more than one inch away from reaching its 10.15-inch annual rainfall average, which is measured between October 1 and Sept. 30.

“Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it sounds,” said Alex Tardy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego, “because really what we’re facing is a four-year deficit, even at Lindbergh Field in downtown San Diego, of 15 inches of rain.”

Rainfall Totals At San Diego Lindbergh Field

2012 - 7.9 inches

2013 - 6.5 inches

2014 - 5.1 inches

2015 - 8.9 inches (as of July 14, 2015)

*Average annual rainfall is 10.15 inches

Source: National Weather Service

San Diego’s unusual rain year began exceptionally dry. The combined precipitation total for January and February — typically the wettest months of the year — was less than an inch.

Then came May, when Lindbergh Field received 2.5 inches of rain — it was the second wettest May ever in San Diego. Tardy said May’s rains can be partially credited to a burst in El Niño activity.

“We saw some movement with sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean where it really warmed up significantly this spring," he said.

Tardy said the El Niño is strengthening so rapidly that San Diego could begin seeing frequent storm activity by the end of September.

“But we need El Niño to last all the way through the winter,” Tardy said. “And because it’s strengthening so quick right now, there is a little bit of concern that the peak of the El Niño may not occur with the peak of our winter. That’s when we really need the ocean and atmosphere to be working together.”

For the rest of the summer, Tardy said, the weather will likely be dry, with occasional small bouts of monsoonal moisture.