SAN DIEGO -- When we say the weather has turned cold in San Diego, that usually means one thing: It's time to put on a sweater. Or maybe just a decent Chargers T-shirt. It's relative. The city rarely gets genuinely cold. And it never experiences the sort of life threatening lows that currently afflict much of the country.
There are two reasons for this. Brandt Maxwell, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, says, "We're protected to the west by the ocean. It has a much higher heat capacity than the air, so it moderates cold weather that comes from the Pacific. And we're protected to the east and the north by the mountains, which block a lot of cold air from coming here. That's not just the local mountains; air is also blocked by mountains in northern Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the Sierra Nevada. When we do get 'down slope' winds, the air heats up because it compresses."
History proves the point. The coldest day in San Diego history occurred on Jan. 7, 1913, when the temperature dropped to 25 degrees. By comparison, Chicago today recorded a low of minus-15 degrees. The prior record for Jan. 6 was minus-14, set in 1988.
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