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Climate & Environment

San Diego has a Mediterranean to semi-arid climate when classified using the Koppen climate classification system, which is characterised by warm, dry summers and mild winters with some rain. San Diego enjoys mild, mostly dry weather with 264 sunshine days annually. Temperatures vary little throughout the year.

Summer or dry period of May to October are mild to warm with average high temperatures of 70-78ーF (21-26ーC) and lows of 55-66ーF (13-19ーC), and temperatures exceed 90ーF (32ーC) 4 days a year. Winter or rainy period of November to April are mild and somewhat rainy with high temperatures of 66-70ーF (19-21ーC) and lows of 50-56ーF (10-13ーC).

The climate in the San Diego area and the rest of California often varies dramatically over short geographical distances, due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons): frequently, particularly during the "May gray/June gloom" period, a thick "marine layer" cloud cover will keep the air cold and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine approximately 5 miles (8 km) inland. This happens every year in May and June. This phenomenon is known as microclimate. Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas tend to experience much more significant temperature variations than coastal areas. Thus, for example, downtown San Diego averages January lows of 50ーF and August highs of 78ーF. The city of El Cajon, just 10 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, averages 42ーF and 88ーF respectively.

Rainfall along the coast averages about 10 inches (251 mm) of precipitation annually, which occurs mainly during the cooler months of December through April. Though there are few wet days per month during the rainy period, rainfall can be heavy when it does fall. However the rainfall is greater in the higher elevations of San Diego. Some of the higher areas of San Diego can get up to 11-13 inches of rain a year.

Like most of southern California, the majority of San Diego's current area was originally occupied by chaparral, a plant community made up mostly of drought-resistant shrubs. The endangered Torrey Pine has the bulk of its population in San Diego in a stretch of protected chaparral along the coast. The steep and varied topography, and proximity to the ocean creates a number of different habitats within the city limits, including tidal marsh and canyons. The influence of humans has altered existing habitats and has also created habitats that did not exist prior to human development, by construction of buildings, the introduction of new species, and the use of water for lawns and gardens. A number of species of parrots, including the Red-masked Parakeet and Red-crowned Amazon have established feral populations in urban neighbourhoods such as Ocean Beach.

San Diego's broad city limits encompass a number of large nature preserves, including Torrey Pines State Reserve, Border Field State Park, Mission Trails Regional Park. Torrey Pines State Preserve and a coastal strip continuing to the north is the only location where the rare species of Torrey Pine, P. torreyana torreyana, is found. Due to a combination of the steep topography that prevents or discourages building, and some efforts for preservation, there are also a large number of canyons within the city limits that are nature preserves, including Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Marian Bear Memorial Park in the San Clemente Canyon, as well as a number of small parks and preserves.

The chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats in low elevations along the coast are prone to wildfire, and the rates of fire have increased in the 20th century, due primarily to fires starting near the borders of urban and wild areas.





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