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NOAA adjusts new climate normals; San Diego trending warmer and drier

Posted at 5:34 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 17:39:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Every ten years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) adjusts climate normals, and the newest normals were just released. These new normals show that San Diego and most of the southwestern parts of the United States are trending warmer and are seeing less rainfall.

The normals consider the past 30 years, so the new update now encompasses 1991-2020. The data includes averages for daily, monthly and annual temperature and precipitation totals.

In San Diego, the previous annual rainfall totals used to be 10.33 inches, but this new data set dropped the yearly normal to 9.79 inches.

“We’ve dropped about a half-inch, that’s quite a bit,” said Alex Tardy, Meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Tardy said temperatures are trending warmer across the board as well, with most months' average temperature increasing 1-1.5 inches.

“It appears that every month, not just summer, but every month for San Diego proper is coming in a little bit warmer,” said Tardy.

He said in previous decades, this trend was predicted, so this new data set is validation that those predictions were correct. That also means that scientists are feeling more confident in their current predictions that warming and drying out will continue to occur in the coming decades.

These numbers have a domino effect on other climate-related issues. In California, drought and wildfires are huge topics of conversation. These slight changes in the trends could mean worsening of those typical problems.

“They go hand in hand so when you see a shift in warmer dryer, especially year-round, that leads to a longer fire season, so a shorter window of when we’re wet and a shorter window of when we’re green,” said Tardy.

He said the way things are looking, this summer could bring drought conditions to Southern California, adding that conditions are worse than the typical summer dry spell for the region.

However, he added that it’s not a lost cause. There are steps people can take to help combat this problem and be prepared for any impacts.

“So what can people do? It’s not doom and gloom, it’s not panic. Conserve the water, have a plan. Have a plan related to fires developing in your neighborhood, have a plan related to ‘gosh I might need to use my air conditioner this year more than usual.’ That’s money,” he said.

Information on NOAA’s new climate normals can be found here.