Ocean temperatures are the highest they have ever been in San Diego, scientists said. This is causing the potential of a hurricane to sweep through the area for the first time in over 160 years.
Record high temperatures were first noticed at the beginning of August. Water temperature testing has been conducted at the end of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, every single day since 1916.
On Wednesday, August 1, water samples showed a reading of 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers said it broke an all-time record.
“Under these conditions, the hurricanes that form in the southeast Pacific have a higher chance of tracking more northward and potentially affecting us," Said Art Miller, Ph.D., head of the Oceans and Atmosphere Section of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Miller added the chances a hurricane would directly hit San Diego are slim, however, it could drift upwards from Baja California as the unusually warm ocean waters in the area fuel it.
“As it migrates more towards the north, it has the potential to keep its dynamic structure and produce rainfall events," added Miller.
A tropical storm can be classified as having wind speeds of 39-73 miles per hour. A hurricane has wind speeds of 74 mph or greater.
There has only been one hurricane in recorded history in California. It is known as the 1858 San Diego hurricane.
There have been multiple tropical storms to hit San Diego. For example, in 1976, Hurricane Kathleen moved from the south into the county as a tropical storm.
A year later in 1977, Hurricane Doreen was considered the worst tropical cyclone to hit California in over 30 years, causing an estimated $25 million in damage.
"Since 2014, we’ve had a lot of warming in the Pacific," said Melissa Carter, a programmer analyst with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "We also have a lot of water coming up from the south, which is warmer."
Miller added the wetter and warmer weather could bring about a destructive El Niño weather pattern in 2018-2019 as well.