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What's behind San Diego's stretch of unusual weather?

 May 15, 2023 at 12:07 PM PDT

S1: It's time for KPBS Midday Edition. Do you think our weather has been weird ? Let's ask some experts about weather , water and what could come next. I'm wearing Cavanaugh With conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. Linking strange weather to climate change is dicey , but there are signs to watch for.

S2: We do have a cloud of climate risks and they are interrelated in terms of thinking about drought and the drying of the landscape and wildfire risk and the fire season and also the extreme precipitation.

S1: Plus the challenges posed by this year's record snowpack. And a look ahead to San Diego's summer forecast. That's next on Midday Edition. Anyone used to a San Diego Spring knows all about Mae Gray and June gloom. But this year the clouds and chilly weather have been especially intense. In fact , San Diego's may temperatures have been running below normal , and April was mostly gray and chilly with drizzle and rain. That's something we usually would be able to shrug off as an exception to the rule. But last year we experienced just about the same thing without the rain. According to the National Weather Service. Average temperatures in San Diego were below normal between January and May in 2022. So the question is , is this chillier , gray or late winter and spring weather becoming a new normal for us and is a connected to climate change ? Joining us to talk about why we're seeing this change and what we may expect in the future is Scripps Oceanography climate scientist Julie Kurlansky. And Julie , welcome.

S2: Thank you for having me.


S2: Okay.

S1: Okay. So California , especially northern California , got hit by a series of atmospheric rivers that caused unusual downpours and devastating flooding in some areas.

S2: But between December and January that caused that initial creation of the snowpack and significant flooding. And then we had quite a few later atmospheric rivers this year as well. And it's rather complicated in terms of the different various different dynamics that caused it to form , but it can go as far back as over the Asian continent and then the connections through the atmosphere to to set up the jet stream and where the storms flow.


S2: And so as the atmosphere holds more water within these storms , that carries more water vapor. And so when the precipitation forms or the rain or snow , there's more water to fall out. So that's one thing in terms of physics , that is is terms of climate change.


S2: And so you need a lot of data to be able to do that and long periods of record to with changes over decades , multiple decades.

S1: As climate scientists , though , do see these unusual weather events occur in the real world. And I'm talking about things all over the globe , like more flooding and and more intense rainstorms and more intense tornadoes. ET cetera.

S2: We're always refining our estimates and impacts. One of the projects we're working on right now is taking the the the new set of global climate models. That project of possible future impacts of climate change and downscaling them to on so they're much more localized to be able to get the using the latest data to get a more localized understanding of those impacts of climate change. So it's continually evolving and we're continually understanding more and more.

S1: When you talk about localized impacts of climate change , how do you think the notion of climate justice plays into the discussion ? The idea that many communities have long been overlooked and under considered ? When we talk about the effects of climate change.

S2: I think it's something that is incredibly important to consider. And this is something we at Scripps are starting to look at more in one part , especially in terms of flooding , just with the connection with atmospheric rivers and what happens. This year , the impacts of flooding on disadvantaged communities and just the capacity to build back and come back after a flooding event.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. We're talking about climate change with Scripps Oceanography climate scientist Julie Kurlansky. Julie , we've been hearing that climate change will cause extended droughts in California , and it's difficult for me. I think it might be difficult for other people to understand how is that possible when we got all this rain this year and we've been hearing more and more about atmospheric rivers.

S2: And so what we really when we talk about extended droughts , it's our precipitation or rain and snowfall regime and patterns are changing. And so that we have these longer dry periods that are punctuated by more extreme wet periods. And so the the dryness , these extended droughts are something that we can even after this year , you know , expect to see again and again. And then the other part of the extended droughts is with climate change , the atmosphere gets warmer and as the atmosphere gets warmer , it has it can dry out the landscape , which exacerbates the drought. And so this combination of the more extreme rains becoming more extreme and the less extreme , less frequent. So that extends the drought and then also the landscape exacerbates it.

S1: So as you look at the possible effects of climate change , you see severe weather events that were once considered rare , now becoming increasingly common or lasting longer than they ever used to.

S2: When we see the frequency of these coming in , the projections , they are showing that they would become more frequent depending on the size of extreme. It's variable and it's also variable throughout the state. And so it changes quite a bit. But bottom line , by preparing for for extreme rainfall or flooding , you're preparing for those potential future conditions. Similarly for droughts. Likewise , if you're preparing for a dry condition or extended dry periods , you'll be we will be better ready for them when they come in the future. And given our natural climate variability and which is projected to get worse with climate change , it is a it's a resilient strategy and adaptation , a climate adaptation strategy.

S1: What about another change that we've been seeing and feeling in San Diego ? More monsoonal moisture coming into this region from the south now , late summer storms , Well , we've got them in the east county on the eastern side of the mountains , but they're coming all the way over to the coast. We've seen that the last couple of summers and our summers are getting more humid.

S2: And so I think this goes back to our climate variability and how year to year it can it can change quite a bit. And so it's sometimes our we , you know , we think about what it's been the past couple of years. But if you think back over the last 50 years , there are these periodic times where you get more moisture as well during the summer.

S1: It seems to me San Diego is often overlooked or understudied in climate change analysis. We we don't have the same weather as the rest of Southern California. We're often protected from the worst of the winter storms as we were a couple of times this year.

S2: We were the only county that had our own regional report. And so we're able to look at the climate change projections just for San Diego. So it is something that is being studied at Scripps.

S1: You mentioned that there's a more of a variability in San Diego County than you find elsewhere. Can you tell us about that ? Yeah.

S2: If you look at a map , the year to year variability in how much rain we get , generally , you know , Northern California , that variability is less than in Southern California. There is not a sharp line , say , between where northern California and Southern California is. It's a bit of a gradient , but I would say not just San Diego , but in Southern California there is more year to year variability than there. Is in Northern California.


S2: So I think all of it for me is concerning. And like I said before , I think being prepared as we can be for the next flood or the next drought is an important adaptation strategy for the long term and becoming more and more resilient and being able to bounce back from these extremes is increasingly important.


S2: There's we're working on we're working on that and building that to become more resilient. So that one , I've learned more about that. In terms of some of the other extreme statewide , I know a little bit more about what we're doing and I think we are making progress definitely there. More specifically in San Diego , a little less so with the extreme flooding.


S2: And so being prepared is similar to what I've said before , being prepared for the next big extreme , where you have this combination of storm , high tide , and so you get the wave and the run up. I'm already a high tide. So again , being prepared for these extremes in the near term are really important and they build resiliency over the long term. Why we can test adaptation measures.

S1: I've been speaking with Scripps Oceanography climate scientist Julie Kurlansky. Julie , thank you very much. I appreciate. It.

S2: It. Yeah , my pleasure. Thanks for talking.

S1: We'd love to hear your thoughts about the changes you've seen in San Diego's weather. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228 and leave a message or you can email us at midday at Coming up , what to do with California's melting record snowpack.

S3: We can't capture all of the water that falls , and we wouldn't want to you know , that that movement of water is just from from the land then to the ocean is part of the hydrologic cycle.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. The aftermath of our unusual winter weather has left California with an unusual amount of water. The most recent survey finds that the statewide snowpack is more than 250% of normal and the deepest in 70 years. A cooler than usual spring means that snowpack is melting slowly. But even with a moderate melt , winter flooding from massive rainfall has left all that water with fewer and fewer places to go. All of which means that San Diego and California in general , after a multi-year drought , now have an abundance of water. And unfortunately , that could be a problem. Heather Cooley is here with me. She's director of research at the Pacific Institute , which examines an array of water issues in California. And Heather , hello. Hi , how are you ? I'm doing great. Thanks for doing this.

S3: You know , with all of this water that we had and with the snowpack , that that still remains as we look at our our surface reservoirs , we're seeing them replenished. They're there. They're filling up. And again , with that snowpack melting , though , they will continue to fill. If we look to our aquifers are sort of groundwater storage. Those systems , you know , are not recovered in many areas. They were severely depleted during the drought , this drought and previous droughts , and they just take much longer to recover. And so areas entirely reliant on those aquifers may still be facing limits on water availability. And then as we look , you know , particularly for Southern California , if we look at the Colorado River , which is an important source there , the issues , you know , there are two. They've had a little bit of a better year , but they're there limits in there. Their concerns about water supply are our long term concerns. And so , you know , this this this winter has provided some relief , but it hasn't changed the sort of long term trajectory and the need to better manage our water resources.

S1: Speaking of the aquifers that need to be replenished , we heard that the extended drought made some of the soil incapable of absorbing rainfall. Is that still the case ? Yes.

S3: So , you know , when when groundwater is depleted , there are some places where that aquifer just starts to collapse and that becomes a permanent loss of the ability to store water. And so there are and that's driven in part by the types of soils , how severe the depletion was. And so , you know , it's not just that we apply water and it's a sponge and it refills in some instances that that happens. But in some areas what we're talking about is a permanent loss of storage. And so it's an issue we need to be mindful of and to be managing appropriately , given the importance of groundwater today and the role that it can play when there are limits when we're in a drought.


S3: I think the issue with flooding was was as you noted , we just had a huge amount of water come through. We just exceeded expectations around around the amount of rainfall that we had , the amount of snow that we've had. And so , you know , we we just received , as you noted , about 250 times what , you know , percent of of average. And so it's just a lot of water. We had , you know , over a dozen atmospheric rivers. And so we had very intense rainfall over very short periods of time. And it's just hard for our system to to manage all of that water , especially when it comes all at once.

S1: Can you talk a bit more about how we've seen our lakes and rivers across the state start to fill back up ? Yes.

S3: So , you know , it's really our reservoirs , our lakes , they are are very they respond very quickly to rainfall events and to snow. And so we are seeing those recharge and across the state from northern California into southern California. And so , you know , they now have water. I think in terms of how the ecosystem responds , it does take time for those systems to respond for fish , for wildlife to to be able to recover from the severe drought that we've had. But they're but those systems also are. Incredible in terms of how how they can recover. So providing that water will be important for recovery , but it's not going to be instantaneous.

S1: You mentioned the Colorado River. So much of the West's water comes from siphoning off that river. It didn't cure the problem of the Colorado River being stretched too thin. But tell us how these rains helped.

S3: Yeah , So it didn't solve the long term problem. I think what it does is it takes a little bit of pressure and off , off of of of the various states that rely on that system. And Mexico , it provides a little more time , I think , to start to identify and implement solutions. But I don't think we can be complacent. The issues in the Colorado River are decades in the making. We've been watching those aquifers decline now for for 20 plus years. And so the fact that we've had a little bump in those supplies , we can't we can't be complacent. We need to continue to be very proactive and aggressive in terms of cutting our reliance on that system.

S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. Heather Cooley is with me. She's director of research at the Pacific Institute. You know , during heavy rains this winter , I kept reading articles criticizing the lack of water storage capacity in this state. You know , there was one article after another in the LA Times about how the water was just running off when it should be stored.

S3: So , you know , I don't think we can't capture all of the water that falls. And we wouldn't want to , you know , that that movement of water is just from from the land then to the ocean is part of the hydrologic cycle. It's important for the transfer of salts , for the transfer of nutrients , for functioning of those ecosystems to to have movement of water. So , you know , that that being said , I do think there are opportunities for us to be replenishing groundwater aquifers and to do that more effectively with these intense rainfall events. There are also opportunities in our urban areas to be capturing some of that storm water , using it to recharge aquifers , even to store in cisterns for later use. So , you know , while I think there are some opportunities , we can't look at all of the water that comes as being available to be captured , it's really sort of a balance there.

S1: With that requires some technology. I mean , obviously getting stormwater in a barrel doesn't. But I mean , it's some technology to restore the aquifers that we just haven't put in place.

S3: It doesn't require technology. I think what it what it requires is a identifying where the best areas are for recharge. There are some areas where we want to avoid. There may be pollution there. There may be lots of nutrients and fertilizers that were that were used for agriculture , for example , and we don't want to pollute our aquifers. So we need to do a better job of identifying where are the priority areas for recharge. And then there may be infrastructure that is needed to move some of that water to those locations as well. And so we need to have a solid plan for how we're going to do this , where we're going to do it , how we're going to incentivize people to do this as well. There may be some agricultural lands , for example. We want we want to we want to flood and then and then use to naturally recharge those aquifers. And we really need a solid plan and then action in order to to realize that opportunity.


S3: You know , as I look out and think about water usage , you know , about half of our urban water uses in California is on our landscapes. And oftentimes it's for it's for lawn. And so what we can be doing is to really transform our landscapes , put in plants that are more appropriate for our climate and then to to root and our our rain , our rain gutters , our downspouts to our landscapes. You know , I did a ton of mulching at my own home that's helping to hold on to that water. I've done a lot of work to build the health of the soil. It's holding on to that water and then making it available for plants as well. As we go into the spring and even into the summer. So there's lots of things we can be doing in our own home , but I think importantly around. On water. Mean we talk about it at these large regional scales. Water is managed at the local level. So there are actions we can take in our local community as well and making our voice heard in local decisions around how water is managed. And I think that's an important opportunity for all of us as we make our communities more resilient to to to these water challenges.

S1: You know , I mentioned that the mountain snowpack , not only is it very , very big this year , but it's also not melting as quickly as people feared it might. Does any of the melting snowpack water eventually find its way all the way down to this end of the state ? Absolutely.

S3: So , you know , as we've been fortunate that we didn't have you know , we started to have some warm weather and then it cooled off again. That has helped the snowpack stay. It's helped to avoid a lot of flooding , but it really is that snowpack that then starts to continue to recharge those surface reservoirs. And as we draw water down , as we move water throughout the state , then that creates space and then we're able to capture some of that snowmelt. So it is that snowmelt is important across California. It's really our largest natural reservoir.

S1: I've been reading things about the concerns about how quickly this snowpack will melt and what that might mean.

S3: But , you know , as as I noted , it's been it's been a little slower. We've had some cool weather. But , you know , that can change really quickly in California , especially as we're seeing more extremes. We're seeing overall , you know , hotter , hotter and drier conditions. But then as we're seeing with these very , very wet years and these large snowpack. So , you know , we need to be thinking about how we manage these extremes more effectively given given the effects of climate change.

S1: When it rains as much as it has this winter. And I think that there's even rain coming up in our forecast somewhat soon , it's it's hard for people , I think , to think about this amount of rainfall and also the need for conservation.

S3: And , you know , I think I think I think the way I think about it is , you know , we have water. This is an opportunity for us to sort of recharge and replenish our groundwater aquifers or surface reservoirs , but we can't squander that water. We need to use it efficiently and eliminate waste. I do think that's important to do In what years and and dry years ? You know , the reality is when we are in a drought , we really don't we don't know right away. It's often in year 2 or 3 that we sort of recognize we're in a drought and our opportunities to reduce demand are more limited. We tend to focus on some of these quick things. We do let our lawns go brown , fallow agricultural fields , but in order to really advance efficiency , water efficiency , we need to be looking at taking out old appliances and fixtures , putting in more efficient models , changing our landscapes , putting in plants that are more appropriate for our climate. Those types of measures , those efficiency measures take a little longer to implement , but they can help us prepare for the next drought. They can help us deal with water scarcity more broadly. And so we need to continue moving in that direction , regardless of whether it's a wet year or even a wet couple of years. You know , those measures not only help us to , you know , take advantage and use the water we have most efficiently and effectively. They can also help us to save energy. They help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. There are lots of co-benefits of for using water efficiently.

S1: Speaking of the possibility of a couple of wet years , as I understand it , climate change brings extreme weather that can last longer than usual.

S3: So , you know , as we we've even seen , I think last year was a great example where the year started out really wet. We had a wet sort of November in December and then the rains just stopped. And so , you know , I think these extremes , even within a year and then in between years or something , we are are as part of California's climate , but it's one that we're seeing get even more extreme. And so we need to be adequately prepare. Caring our communities , helping to make them more resilient to that greater variability and the greater uncertainty.

S1: And of course , with all the growth that's accompanied this rainfall.

S3: I mean , certainly the wet weather and the cooler temperatures has helped to delay the start of of the wildfire season. But that also means there's more fuel to be burned. So , you know , it's a sort of a , you know , a double edged sword there and something , you know , it points to and highlights the need to continuously and proactively manage these issues and not just be reactive. And so I think that's something we need to do a better job of with respect to water management , with respect to forest management and just the management of our resources more broadly.

S1: So really interesting. I want to thank you. I've been speaking with Heather Cooley. She's director of research at the Pacific Institute. Thanks for all this good information.

S3: Thank you. It was wonderful to talk with you.

S1: We'd love to hear your thoughts about how California should manage its record snowpack. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228 and leave a message or you can email us at midday at

S4: Rain was above average. I mean , if you just look at locations around San Diego , we haven't seen that wet of a winter going back to 2005.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. After months of cool , wet weather , we're finally into a warm up. Temperatures this week are forecast in the normal range for San Diego at this time of year. So is San Diego sunshine back at last or is it just a reprieve before we're hit with the typical June gloom ? Joining me is Alex Tardy. He's warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Diego County. And welcome back , Alex.

S4: Thanks for having me on again.


S4: I would say yes , especially for this past winter and with emphasis on December through March , with the rain , the wind and the incredible snow we saw in California and even Southern California mountains. But you know that occurring in a La Nina , the third year in a row of La Nina , the cold phase of the ocean way down by the equator , we don't typically see that. And we set records with snowpack. And it wasn't just a wet winter. It was a cold winter below average. So that kept the snowpack. The snowpack is still with us. So if you look at the rain , the temperatures , the cool temperatures , the snowpack , yeah , I was surprised. I don't think anyone expected it. And it seems like we've had a trend in even some of these La Nina years , like 2010 , 2017 , where it's been a pleasant surprise and we can safely say that it's ended our drought , at least for most of California , not for the Great Basin , but for California , with water supply now back to being not just normal but above normal and full capacity.

S1: You know , some climate scientists say the chilly , wet weather was just part of a natural cycle that California and San Diego have always gotten. But there are others that say there are links to climate change.

S4: This this past year mean objectively temperatures were below normal. Rain was above average mean if you just look at locations around San Diego we haven't seen that wet of a winter going back to 2005. Even city of San Diego's 14in of rain , northern county , Oceanside , Escondido , 25 , 26in of water. Palomar Mountain , 61in of water. That's not normal. And temperatures , you know , were much below average. Some of our mountain areas like Palomar Mountain , saw one of the coldest winters on record. So , yeah , you know , we never necessarily see normal or average each year. Sometimes it's warmer , wetter , drier , cooler. But to see this in a La Nina year , after two solid years of drought , below average precipitation , really warm summers of 2020 , 2021. So you know a lot of this. Certainly looks like it's more abnormal , more extreme than even some variability that we typically see from winter to winter. Um , we no longer can really say , you know , El Nino is the thing for our rain. We now have three consecutive years in the past decade. So 2010 , 2011 , 2016 , 2017 , and now this past year. Um , they're not really consecutive , but in a decade three of them are La Ninas and they were all three very wet with major snow. So , you know , there's definitely an indication while , you know , every year brings its own surprises , these are , you know years that are a little more extreme than normal. And our summer's a little more extreme than normal , especially with the warm temperatures. Um , and ending a drought that we just went through with the La Nina. I don't know how you could say , you know , that's normal. That's certainly not what we expect. And so other things appear to be going on that are putting a little more severity in some of these , you know , winter and summer weather patterns.

S1: Apparently sometime this week , monsoonal moisture and possible storms in the county in May. I'm I'm really sort of dumbfounded by this.

S4: Um , so , um , you know , you can look at all these different events , the heat waves of 2020 , 20 , 21 , the hottest years on record in California , the most wildfires on record , one of the wettest years on record , the most snowpack , most snow on record this past year. And now here we are in May. Um , you know , we're probably expecting a little break , right ? We're expecting the May gray June gloom. We can deal with that. We're used to that. Um , maybe a few showers like we saw last week. You know , we're used to that maybe in May the transition month , but now we're talking about full fledged summer coming in from the east , which means downright hot temperatures in our deserts. Anza-borrego usually a really good time to hike. I would tell most people. April , May , June , July , No , April , May. Yeah , they're going to be well over 100 , 105 degrees. And with that heat , we're going to develop a monsoon , which is a shift of the winds in the upper atmosphere , monsoon weather pattern , which we normally don't see till like late June , sometimes early July. We're going to get that here in mid-May. And that could result very likely into several days of thunderstorms in our mountains , maybe a few thunderstorms in our deserts and possibly even seeing a thunderstorm or two making it all the way to our coast later next week. That's not , um , that's nowhere near normal. That's , you know , that's over a month ahead of what we call the schedule or what might be normal with the monsoonal pattern.

S1: I'm talking to Alex Tardy. He's a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Diego County. And we are talking , of course , about our weather.

S4: Not one that I get to answer that often. So we are at , you know , about 30 degrees north latitude. That's a scientific number. We're you know , we're in the the edge of the subtropics. We're far south compared to much of the United States. Um , and , you know , normally that would mean really warm Mediterranean climate , downright hot. Um , but thanks to our marine layer , our friends in Palm Springs and Borrego Springs find themselves often in the warm season just downright hot 100 115 Now we would have that same weather , same weather. And this is when people start rolling their eyes at me. Um , in San Diego , if it were the same latitude , if it wasn't for the cool ocean , the cold ocean currents that come all the way down from Alaska , they really start from Japan all the way down from Alaska and come down from the north , keeping our water most of the time in the 60s. So when you put that cool water , which is basically an air conditioner and you blow that on that hot air at this latitude. It comes out in the oven as some really nice temperatures normally. So it moderates our temperatures , you know , from from 20 to 30 degrees cooler than they might normally be or or could be because of our latitude. So we got the sun sun angle being in this latitude. We've got the ingredients to be really hot. But that ocean marine layer , yeah , really modifies our temperatures on a daily , monthly basis. Sometimes it's annoying because it modifies it so much that we have fog and low clouds.

S1: Is it the water temperature ? One of the first things affected by climate change. And along with that , we have seen some of our summers a lot more humid because of the ocean temperatures and that. Right.

S4: Um yeah you've done your research that that that is correct. Um , I don't know if it's the chicken and the egg. I don't know if the land or the ocean. I think overall what we've been observing is the land warms faster and cools faster , especially when you start talking about land near the Arctic Circle , when you remove ice and glaciers. But even land down here , we see the signs of drought and global warming faster over the land. But that said , there is a lag. But the oceans absorb that excessive heat during drought , during heat waves , during climate change. The ocean absorbs that. And so we are now seeing our Atlantic and Pacific Ocean , you know , reaching a point where they can't absorb and they can't reset back to normal because there's so much excessive heat coming off the land year after year after year , not just one day , but year after year after year. So we see these marine heat waves , they're called over the Pacific Ocean. And there's still one out there in the central northern Pacific massive. And it's been shifting around. It got eroded by the active winter storm because those storms turned the water over along our coast. But the main part of it still out there. And what's concerning is it's independent of El Nino warmth. It's independent of La Nina. Cool. It's just sitting out there in the Atlantic has it , too. And so it really could be a signal of excessive heat in our atmosphere that was generated from our land with these warmer years over the past decade or so. And the water is feeling that and the water's warmer than it should be and it's not completely recovering. So they do work together , though.


S4: Not going to be that bad. But the actual forecast for when you get into June , July and August , while we're benefiting from all that rain with a delayed fire season because of the wet ground , the wet green grass , we're benefiting from that. The actual forecast as we get into July and August is for above normal temperatures. So in other words , erasing this cool winter and this wet winter , all the massive gains we had with that , starting to erase that by having warmer than normal conditions , which basically means you have more evaporation , you end up getting drier soil , more stress on your vegetation. So the official forecast , unfortunately , is for above normal temperatures , especially our inland areas. Now us on the coast , that's the wildcard. Our water temperatures may not recover fast enough and that might keep us like last year near average along the coast. But once you get in line around I-15 and eastward , it's expected to be not just warm because it's summer , but warmer than normal as we go through this summer into early fall.

S1: You know , Alex , I know you know , this San Diegans talk about the weather a lot. If it's not 72 degrees and sunny , we tend to get concerned. Okay , But how much do people talk about it with you ? You must get asked about it all the time.

S4: I do. So it varies. So if it's my family , it's just about like today. Do I need a jacket ? Sun coming out today , dad , that type of thing. If it's someone I don't know , sometimes I play undercover and and I don't engage too much into it. And I let them kind of give me their lecture of weather and climate. And sometimes it's fun if it's flat out incorrect. Might interject. Now , if it's someone who knows I'm a meteorologist , I try to make it like a , you know , a two way street. You know , hear him out , try to explain what was going on , maybe try to interject that some of this we don't quite understand , like why last winter was so wet and near record wet and record snowpack. So I try to , you know , explain to them sometimes , you know , when when it gets really generalized where someone tells me , oh , El Nino is coming , we're going to flood , you know , like , hold on , put on the brakes , you know , type of thing. And day to day weather or long term weather. And then maybe sometimes I'll get a comment. You know , like this is not abnormal or this is not climate change or we had this in the 70s type of thing. And I try to explain to them , you know , within reason with a lot of unknowns about our climate and our weather that , you know , know the frequency of some of these events is abnormal and they're unusual. And it's not just San Diego. Try to shift them to other parts of the country , other parts of the world as well , where even more extreme anomalies have occurred and are occurring.

S1: Well , thank you for explaining everything to us , Alex. I really do appreciate it. I've been speaking with Alex Tardy. He is warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service here in San Diego County , and we are lucky for it. Thank you so much , Alex.

S4: Thanks so much.

S1: Thank you for joining us to hear some expert analysis of our changing weather. We'd love to hear your comments. You can always reach us at (619) 452-0228 or by email at midday at I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Thanks for listening.

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Rain on a windshield in San Diego, Calif. Sept. 9, 2022.
Nic McVicker
Rain on a windshield in San Diego, Calif. Sept. 9, 2022.

Those accustomed to a San Diego spring know all about May Gray and June Gloom. But this year, the clouds and chilly weather have been especially intense. So is this chillier and grayer late winter and spring weather becoming a new normal for us, and is it connected to climate change?


Julie Kalansky, Scripps Institute of Oceanography climate scientist

Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute

Alex Tardy, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Diego County