The sea surface temperature at the Scripps Pier in La Jolla hit 78.6 degrees on Wednesday, the highest reading in the pier’s 102-year history, according to UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The reading broke the previous record of 78.4 degrees, set in 1931.
Scripps Oceanography officials say local ocean temperatures have been running above normal for several days at that spot, but the record was not broken until Wednesday.
The institute has been taking sea surface temperatures there since August 1916 as part of its scientific research.
Ocean temperatures have been above average along the entire San Diego County coastline for much of the summer. The reason isn’t clear. The region is not experiencing an El Niño, which tends to produce very warm ocean temperatures in the summer and fall.
“Southern California coastal waters have been anomalously warm since the beginning of 2014, when we experienced a marine heat wave,” Daniel Rudnick, a Scripps oceanographer, said Thursday.
“This event was popularly known as ‘the blob.’ The following year, during 2015-16, we had one of the strongest El Niños of the the last few decades and the local ocean continued warming.
“Since then, SoCal waters are still anomalously warm — that is, the water has not returned to temperatures that were normal in the previous seven years,’’ Rudnick said.
In recent weeks, temperatures in some spots between Carlsbad and Imperial Beach have reached 75 to 77 degrees, and 80 in San Diego Bay.
The warmer waters are posing a challenge for lifeguards, who have had to watch over enormous crowds. And many people have stepped on near-shore sting rays while entering the ocean, requiring first aid. Sting rays linger in the water where the ocean meets the beach.
Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.