Southern California is currently witnessing record warm ocean waters, which is one of the reasons why the state just had its warmest July on record as it continues to feel the heat. A large ridge of high pressure has been a recurring feature over the western US this summer. These large ridges typically provide above-average temperatures and dry weather. It has also helped limit the development of low-level clouds on the coast, allowing for more direct sunlight to warm the ocean.
The warm waters also result in higher humidity in the region, since there is more water vapor present in the atmosphere.
At Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California, sea surface temperatures have been monitored daily since 1916, providing over a century of data for the location. This makes it one of the world’s longest ocean time series and the longest on the Pacific Rim.
After accomplishing a record warm water temperature just off the Southern California coast this past July, a new all-time record was just accomplished on August 8, measuring at 79.34 degrees Fahrenheit.
The average sea surface temperatures this time of the year, taking into account data since 1916, is typically about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in early-August. This means that waters temperatures are about 10 degrees above average.
What is even more interesting is that the top 3 warmest years in terms of water temperature have all been in more recent times, while the top 3 coolest have all been in the 1900s, meaning that the Pacific Ocean near Southern California is generally warmer as time progresses.