Ian Pike noon, Dec. 8
Venus, Tides, and December Hikes
The Planet Venus blazes like a beacon high in the eastern sky during the early stages of morning twilight in late November through December. On very clear mornings, Venus can even be spotted with the naked eye following sunrise, assuming you know exactly where to look. On the morning of Thursday, December 2, Venus is joined by the waning crescent moon in the same part of the sky.
Extreme High and Low Tides are set to occur on several days in early December, and again over several days in late December. The first series, centered on December 5, coincides with the moon at new phase and the approaching winter solstice. These two factors amplify the tide-level range: highs are higher and lows are lower. On Friday, December 3, a peak high tide of +6.4 feet occurs at 6:39 a.m. Saturday's high tide of +6.6 feet peaks at 7:19 a.m. Sunday's high tide of +6.6 feet peaks at 7:59 a.m. Monday's high tide of +6.4 feet crests at 8:38 a.m. Tuesday's high tide rises to +6.2 feet at 9:17 a.m. There are at least two consequences of such high tides. If any strong winter storm happens to arrive from the west during these peak tides, some flooding of low-lying coastal areas around San Diego is likely. On the sunnier side, birdwatchers have an opportunity to spot species of rare shorebirds that get pushed to the edges of local bays and coastal marshes by the high water. Several exceptionally low tides will also occur within the same string of early December dates. On Friday, December 3, the tide falls to -1.1 feet at 1:42 p.m. On Saturday, the tide drops to -1.3 feet at 2:26 p.m. On Sunday, a low tide level of -1.4 feet occurs at 3:07 p.m. On Monday, the tide drops to -1.3 feet at 3:49 p.m. On Tuesday, a -1.0 foot tide occurs at 4:30 p.m. (just before the time of sunset). Any of these low-tide occasions are perfect for exploring marine life in the tidepool areas along San Diego County's coastline.
Hike to San Diego County's High Places to take advantage of December's characteristically clear air. From spots such as Cuyamaca Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Wooded Hill in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, and Boucher Hill at Palomar Mountain State Park, vistas stretching a hundred miles across the Pacific Ocean are not uncommon at this time of year. Look for the dark profiles of Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands, lying northwest and west of San Diego respectively.