SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Welcome to 2016! This year looks to start out as quite promising for San Diego's weather, and with one of the three strongest El Nino's on record still active, should prove to be quite a year for local meteorologists.
With the flip of the calendar, come the looks back at 2015, and San Diego's weather had quite a bit going for the past 12 months as well.
Here's my look at some of the top local weather stories for San Diego in 2015:
Warmest August/September/October on record:
Thanks in part to our ongoing El Nino, more on that shortly, the late summer and early fall months in San Diego ended up being the warmest on record. And by quite a large margin!
Our weather is dominated by the influence of our nearby ocean waters, and when those ocean waters are so much warmer than they should be, it makes it difficult, frankly, impossible, to cool off at night. So we did not.
The result was record-setting warmth for three consecutive months; in fact, my forecast in October on the 13 was that it also would be the warmest on record, even though there were 18 days left to go. This is how crazy thermometers behaved during the three month period. There was the promise of a strong El Nino down the road, but would that make a difference?
As you might expect, hundreds and hundreds of records were broken. Primarily records for the "warmest low temperature" each day were broken, as that warm ocean water prevented weather stations from cooling off at night.
Wettest summer weekend ever recorded:
Okay, they don't really keep track of "wettest summer weekend," that's just my interpretation of what happened. But if they did, this would have been it. A plume of atmospheric moisture that stretched hundreds of miles into the Pacific Ocean was pointing right at San Diego County.
The level of perceptible water in the atmosphere was more than 200 percent, that's something they DO keep track of, and what that meant was a juicy flow overhead which wouldn't require much to produce some rain. That is just what happened on the weekend of July 18 and 19.
San Diego received 56 times our normal July rainfall in just that one weekend. That's impressive. And while this was not related to El Nino, or global warming, or anything like that, this was just a situation that developed an extremely unusual situation whereby the rains fell, long and hard. Not something we see in mid-summer, and naturally lots of records were broken for rainfall over this Saturday and Sunday, and for the month of course it was the wettest July on record.
There was also quite a bit of lightning, which was especially an impressive show for those around the downtown, Mission Valley area.
Toasty ocean waters:
The primary reason for San Diego's record setting late summer (see above) was the incredibly warm ocean this year. Coastal surf temperatures in the mid-70s brought not just the record-setting warm weather to the coastline, but provided an interesting show along San Diego's beaches.
Aquatic wildlife that hasn't been seen on our shores for decades showed up on the sand this fall, and anglers out to catch a few fish were shocked to find the types of fish that had made it this far north in the Pacific Ocean.
By November 1, the water cooled off, and things got back to normal, for the most part, but on top of everything else, the warmer-than-normal ocean waters which lasted longer-than-normal through the summer and into the fall provided beach-goers with what will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Our ongoing drought continued in 2015:
Although 2015 has ended with an uptick in our rainfall and a HUGE snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, the year did not start out that way. By late spring, the city of San Diego tightened water restrictions for residents and businesses, and even if you lived outside the city limits, Jerry Brown and our friends in Sacramento instituted new water restrictions for everyone. It hasn't been a terrible thing, of course, and San Diegans have met the challenge, in some cases exceeded expectations.
While our short-term drought situation may be alleviated by the upcoming rains in 2016, it will take years for our long-term drought situation to recover. Unfortunately, 2015 will go down as one of those years that contributed to the ongoing drought.
Strong coastal wind damage, November:
One of the first in a series of early season storms looked to bring a strong cold front across San Diego's coastline in November. The National Weather Service here in San Diego issued Wind Advisories for the county, which included our local beaches, that doesn't happen too often. On November 15 and 16, strong sustained winds blew off the ocean with gusts exceeding that of Tropical Storm strength.
Carlsbad recorded a wind gust of 54 mph, and there was widespread damage to property and plant life from the winds. These winds also served to weaken many trees, so that even after the winds died down on November 16, the danger of falling trees and branches would continue. It's not often we have such a sustained wind event along the coastline, and when it does happen it's news.
Lack of Santa Ana wind events:
From the "who's complaining?" department, it was somewhat newsworthy that in 2015 San Diego had very little in the way of Santa Ana winds. Considering the lack of rainfall and ongoing drought through the year, by the time September rolled around the fire danger for our county was really on the rise.
The season for Santa Ana wind events roughly runs from September to February, but thankfully we did not have any major wind damage in San Diego County as a result of offshore flow through the end of 2015. Considering our history with fires and such winds, that's also a bit newsworthy.
What happened to our boring weather in 2015?
Here's one you probably won't see on anyone else's list, but for me, this is also newsworthy. San Diego has a reputation well-earned, frankly, for weather that changes little on a day-to-day basis. As residents know, this kind of weather, some may say it's boring, others may be envious, takes place only a couple of times during the year. Usually in April or October, when we are out of the jet stream and don't have the monsoon flow.
However, in 2015, San Diego missed these stretches of non-existing weather situations, as our conditions changed every few days. Much more often than not, and considerably more often than normal, San Diego's weather provided something of a rollercoaster ride in terms of temperatures and sky cover almost the entire 12 months.
This is another item from the "who's complaining?" department when it comes to meteorologists, we love something to talk about. But for residents and tourists, the constant change of weather every few days provided lots of fodder for discussion.
Will this pattern continue into 2016? Time will tell!