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Thunderheads coming

Even coastal San Diego County can experience summer raindrops

Carlsbad summer storm, 2014
Carlsbad summer storm, 2014

Birdwatchers need not despair now that the winter migrants are gone. Plenty of shore birds can be found on summer evenings in the natural coastal wetland areas of San Diego County. From south to north the publicly accessible coastal wetlands include the Tijuana River Estuary, south San Diego Bay (just north of Imperial Beach and along the bay shore at Chula Vista), the San Diego River channel (inland from SeaWorld), Los Peñasquitos Lagoon (adjacent to Torrey Pines State Reserve), the San Dieguito River estuary, San Elijo Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, and Buena Vista Lagoon. In and around these areas look for California gulls, American avocets, brown pelicans, snowy egrets, killdeer, and redwing blackbirds.

Cumulonimbus Clouds, or thunderheads, are most likely to form over San Diego County’s deserts and mountains during the latter part of the summer season, beginning about late July. The clouds appear by midafternoon — often the result of moist, tropical air entering the county from the south or southeast. If intense, these cloud buildups are accompanied by enough rain to flood the desert washes and mountain drainages. When the weather pattern allows the movement of moist air beyond the mountain barriers, even coastal San Diego County can experience the cool spatter of raindrops and spectacular evening lightning displays.

Elderberry, a common bush or small tree found from San Diego County’s coastal canyons to the mountain slopes around Julian and Palomar, is in fruit this month. The branches carry myriads of tiny bluish fruits covered with a white powder. The fruits have traditionally been used for various drinks and preserves.

Fleas, the bane of pets and humans alike, are hopping all over San Diego again as the warm summer progresses. Fleas were far more troublesome in San Diego County’s past than they are today. Soldiers on the Portola expedition over two centuries ago named a deserted Indian village in today’s North County “Rancheria de las Pulgas,” and the problem of pulgas (“fleas”) in the dusty streets and dwelling places of Southern California were commonly mentioned in 19th-century journals and diaries. The place-names Las Pulgas Canyon and Las Pulgas Road in Camp Pendleton are reminders of a timeless torment.

Ocean Water Temperatures are peaking late this month — or are likely to peak in August — as a result of many weeks of summer sunshine and warm coastal air temperatures. While the water offshore seldom exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit, shallow-water temperatures of 70-80 degrees are not uncommon on gently shelving beaches late in the day. Wide, sandy beaches such as Coronado, south Mission Beach, and La Jolla Shores are now at their best for comfortable bathing.

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Carlsbad summer storm, 2014
Carlsbad summer storm, 2014

Birdwatchers need not despair now that the winter migrants are gone. Plenty of shore birds can be found on summer evenings in the natural coastal wetland areas of San Diego County. From south to north the publicly accessible coastal wetlands include the Tijuana River Estuary, south San Diego Bay (just north of Imperial Beach and along the bay shore at Chula Vista), the San Diego River channel (inland from SeaWorld), Los Peñasquitos Lagoon (adjacent to Torrey Pines State Reserve), the San Dieguito River estuary, San Elijo Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, and Buena Vista Lagoon. In and around these areas look for California gulls, American avocets, brown pelicans, snowy egrets, killdeer, and redwing blackbirds.

Cumulonimbus Clouds, or thunderheads, are most likely to form over San Diego County’s deserts and mountains during the latter part of the summer season, beginning about late July. The clouds appear by midafternoon — often the result of moist, tropical air entering the county from the south or southeast. If intense, these cloud buildups are accompanied by enough rain to flood the desert washes and mountain drainages. When the weather pattern allows the movement of moist air beyond the mountain barriers, even coastal San Diego County can experience the cool spatter of raindrops and spectacular evening lightning displays.

Elderberry, a common bush or small tree found from San Diego County’s coastal canyons to the mountain slopes around Julian and Palomar, is in fruit this month. The branches carry myriads of tiny bluish fruits covered with a white powder. The fruits have traditionally been used for various drinks and preserves.

Fleas, the bane of pets and humans alike, are hopping all over San Diego again as the warm summer progresses. Fleas were far more troublesome in San Diego County’s past than they are today. Soldiers on the Portola expedition over two centuries ago named a deserted Indian village in today’s North County “Rancheria de las Pulgas,” and the problem of pulgas (“fleas”) in the dusty streets and dwelling places of Southern California were commonly mentioned in 19th-century journals and diaries. The place-names Las Pulgas Canyon and Las Pulgas Road in Camp Pendleton are reminders of a timeless torment.

Ocean Water Temperatures are peaking late this month — or are likely to peak in August — as a result of many weeks of summer sunshine and warm coastal air temperatures. While the water offshore seldom exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit, shallow-water temperatures of 70-80 degrees are not uncommon on gently shelving beaches late in the day. Wide, sandy beaches such as Coronado, south Mission Beach, and La Jolla Shores are now at their best for comfortable bathing.

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Have you ever listened to Scott Bass' daily surf report on KPBS? It is an aquatic poetic counterpoint to your description here of San Diego's outdoors.

July 17, 2017

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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