September 2011 home page

  Beach Watch
Jon Edelbrock, Del Mar Lifeguard Sergeant
from the Sandpiper archives


Every day Community Service employees receive a plethora of questions, complaints and comments concerning the issues at our beach community. Some of my favorite topics concern comparisons between summers, the Del Mar surf, the weather conditions, crowd size, and the number of ocean rescues. While I can offer Sandpiper readers my personal opinions, it is more reliable to refer to the Lifeguard Department’s 46 years of statistics recorded in our logbooks.

The summer of 2011 has been a stark contrast to the gloomy summer of 2010. Let’s take a look at the periods between June 1 and August 15.

Comparing the months of June (2010-11) the average weather conditions remained similar throughout the month. However the water was nearly 2.5 degrees cooler this year. Given this fact you might assume that stingrays, who are attracted to warmer water conditions, would be more prevalent in 2010 yet this summer we have seen 4 times the number of stingray wounds treated by lifeguards. Other variables, that affect this increase in wounds, are the increase in number of visitors to our beaches as well as the effects of inshore energy (because the higher energy generally equates to fewer stingrays that actually can make it to the shore).

The month of July offers us a stark contrast between last summer and this one. By all weather accounts, the conditions were more “beach friendly” this year. There were 26 cloudy mornings in 2010 and this summer there were less than half of that. I’m going to guess that we also seem to have many more clear afternoons too. I feel confident saying that the water temperatures were actually 4 degrees higher this July.

Visitor totals were over 30% higher, while ocean rescues were five times higher than in 2010. With increased numbers of beach visitors this year it then follows that parking citations have seen a slight increase and this was verified by Lieutenant Eric Sandy, our parking officer.

This August has started out to be very similar to our June with temperatures plummeting 8 degrees overnight on July 31st. We note that air and skies appear to be almost identical as well. Many comments at the beach disparage the coastal weather this summer. We were certainly spoiled from 2006-09 where we enjoyed 80% air temperatures and 70-degree water temperatures daily. Let’s hope for a glorious September and give thanks for our mild climate.


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