Rainfall in San Diego

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The Sunny City by the Sea
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Rain is fairly rare in San Diego compared to much of the country, but vacationers should know when to expect occasional showers when planning their visit.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Rainfall
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Rain in San Diego?
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Does it Rain in Sunny San Diego?

Windskating on the Beach in Mission BeachMojave Prickly Pear Cactus in Anza Borrego Desert State Park

San Diego has a reputation for being a land of sun, with a thriving beach scene throughout the year and comfortable temperatures even during wintertime. While it’s true that the city typically has sunny weather no matter the season, it might surprise vacationers coming from afar to learn that it experiences its fair share of rainy days too!

Rainfall is minimal throughout all areas of San Diego with passing showers in the winter months and almost no recorded rain for many years in the summer months.

Precipitation rates are higher than average during the winter months, from November to mid-March, when rain and even snow are possible. Still, San Diego experiences much less rain than most of the country, so don’t worry too much about having any plans rained out.

The vast majority of days are warm and sunny, letting visitors spend as much time outdoors as possible. In fact, San Diego gets so little rain that it’s not uncommon for droughts to occur, though these are predominantly only a concern in its desert regions.

So, given the dry and pleasant climate that the San Diego region basks in for most of the year, you'll be able to get the most from your visit no matter when you choose to come. Clear blue skies are waiting for you!

Coastal

Sail Bay Beach in Front of Catamaran Resort
Sail Bay Beach in Front of Catamaran Resort

The coastal region around San Diego experiences around 10 inches of rainfall per year. In December, January and February, there may be between 1 and 2 inches per month.

As the winter gives way to the spring, the rainfall chances decrease on the coast with the summer months often receiving less than half an inch of rain per month. The start of the fall season also is full of clear skies and sunshine with little average rainfall in September and October.

San Diego Coastal - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
1.95"
1.37"
1.02"
0.74"
0.78"
0.10"
0.29"
0.10"
0.35"
0.21"
1.14"
2.44"

The coastal region around San Diego experiences around 10 inches of rainfall per year. In December, January and February, there may be between 1 and 2 inches per month.

San Diego Weather Forecast

August
68°F / 83°F
Sunny in August
September
66°F / 82°F
Sunny in September
October
61°F / 81°F
Sunny in October

Coastal Inland

The Popular Pioneer Park in Mission Hills
The Popular Pioneer Park in Mission Hills

In the coastal inland zone, around Montgomery Field, there is virtually no precipitation in the summer months. June, July, and August routinely have no rainfall at all. But in winter, there may be showers resulting in about 2 inches of rain per month.

The coastal inland zone transitions out of its rainiest season in the winter and then back again in the fall. Relatively speaking though, the coastal inland area is a sunny location year round with little rainfall to dampen vacation plans.

San Diego Coastal Inland - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
1.80"
2.40"
1.00"
0.70"
0.30"
0.00"
0.10"
0.00"
0.20"
0.60"
0.90"
1.80"

In the coastal inland zone, around Montgomery Field, there is virtually no precipitation in the summer months, but in winter, there may be showers resulting in about 2 inches of rain per month.

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Upland Central

The central upland zone of La Mesa experiences a similar pattern to the Coastal Inland.

The region is dry for 6 months of the year, with the lowest precipitation levels from May to October. In winter, rainfall moderately increases to an average of 2 inches of rainfall per month, from November through to March.

San Diego Upland Central - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
2.60"
2.30"
2.70"
1.00"
0.30"
0.10"
0.00"
0.10"
0.20"
0.60"
1.30"
1.40"

The central upland zone of La Mesa experiences a similar pattern - dry for 6 months of the year, then an average of 2 inches of rainfall per month, from November through to March.

Transition

In the transition zone, Ramona averages slightly more rainfall, at about 3 inches during each of the 4 winter months.

However, May through September are dry, and any rain that does occur is typically a brief drizzle that clears up by mid-afternoon.

San Diego Transition - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
3.50"
3.50"
3.20"
1.20"
0.40"
0.10"
0.10"
0.20"
0.30"
0.70"
1.30"
1.70"

In the transition zone, Ramona averages slightly more rainfall, at about 3 inches during each of the 4 winter months.

Mountain

Julian Cafe and Bakery in Julian
Julian Cafe and Bakery in Julian

Thinking of heading up to the mountains near Julian? Here, you're more likely to encounter some precipitation in the winter months (3-4 inches per month), but Spring and Fall are dryer.

In terms of year-round averages, San Diego’s mountains get the most rain of anywhere in the county. Even then, there isn’t much precipitation, with rainfall maxing out at an average of 5 inches during February. If you’re hoping to see snow, this is the best time and area to visit, though it’s far from a sure bet.

In the summer, a downpour would qualify as a special occasion, as there’s very little precipitation in the mountains during this time. Most months average less than 0.2 inches of rainfall total, with only the occasional shower to break up the dry warmth.

San Diego Mountain - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
3.90"
5.00"
3.00"
1.50"
0.60"
0.10"
0.10"
0.20"
0.30"
1.20"
2.00"
3.10"

Thinking of heading up to the mountains near Julian? Here, you're more likely to encounter some precipitation in the winter months (3-4 inches per month), but Spring and Fall are dryer, and in the summer, a downpour would be a special occasion.

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Desert

Amazing Desert View with Flowering Plant in the Foreground
Amazing Desert View with Flowering Plant in the Foreground

It’s no surprise that San Diego’s deserts are rarely rainy. In the desert area around Borrego Springs, rainfall is negligible all year-round, with an average of less than 1 inch per month even through the winter season.

Sometimes droughts can result in restrictions on water usage for residents, though this is rarely an issue for anyone planning to visit water parks like Sesame Place and Mission Bay Park, as these attractions are closer to the coast.

San Diego Desert - Rainfall Averages Chart (Inches)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain
1.20"
1.30"
0.70"
0.20"
0.10"
0.00"
0.30"
0.50"
0.30"
0.30"
0.40"
0.80"

In the desert area around Borrego Springs, rainfall is negligible all year-round, with an average of less than 1 inch per month even through the winter season.

This Month's Forecast
66°F / 81°F
Sunny in July
Aug
68°F / 83°F
Sunny in August
Sep
66°F / 82°F
Sunny in September
Oct
61°F / 81°F
Sunny in October

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