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San Clemente Journal

‘World’s Best Climate’ - Sales Pitch or Science?

Larry Moore & Greg Hulsizer former lifeguards and foundation board members

“Larry, did it occur to you that you just might be right?” Like the license plate frame says, maybe San Clemente really does have the World’s Best Climate.  I certainly did not expect that from Jim Kempton a world-renowned surf journalist and author. San Clemente is clearly one of the top surf towns in the world, but “World’s Best Climate,” that always seemed like just a Chamber of Commerce sales pitch. But maybe not. Maybe it is true.  Jim suggested I dig a little deeper to check off the boxes on what makes a “Best Climate”. I did, and this is what I discovered.
We live in the “Goldilocks Latitudes.” This is an easy one. The year round “not too hot, not too cold, but just right” climates are between the 30th and 35th parallels latitude. San Clemente lies at the 33.25th parallel, where we enjoy roughly 300 days of sunshine per year and an average annual temperature of 73 degrees. Check that one off.


Mild Water Temperatures. 
Ideally a “Best Climate” location lies on a very large body of water that seldom is below 60 degrees or above 70 degrees. Higher temperatures, you get humidity and bugs. Lower temperatures, you get San Francisco fog. Lifeguard records show our water temps meet this test. Check that off.


Land Formations make for Ideal Weather.  San Clemente is on the southern end of the Capistrano Bight (see map). It’s a long shallow bay from Dana Point to San Mateo/Cotton’s Point. A bight makes for better climate because it provides protection from the open sea weather. Another check here. But there is more. 

The Coastal Canyon Complex. 
At the north end of the Capistrano Bight (Doheny Beach) is the mouth of a very large atmospheric river that drains along the I-5 corridor to Irvine and deep into Ortega Highway. This protects us from weather moving down from the Northwest. Another big check here. But there is even more.

At the southern border of San Clemente there is yet another even larger Coastal Canyon Complex that ultimately flows along the San Mateo River basin. This atmospheric river reaches deep into Camp Pendleton and knocks down weather coming up from the south. This remarkable dual river geography provides San Clemente with its own mild and stable Micro Climate. Another big check. 

The high ground is always good, and San Clemente is built up on a series of rolling hills facing the beach. These bluffs can soften the winds as they approach the coast. Surfers are familiar with the pattern when its windy at the high school but glassy on the beach. Another check for San Clemente. Put it all together and the San Clemente’s Micro Climate is one of a kind. 

Does San Clemente have the World’s Best Climate? We certainly check all the boxes. But we already knew that. When it comes to the perfect climate to live and play, life is very good. 

‘Life West of the Tracks’ is a feature of the San Clemente Lifeguard and Jr. Guard Foundation Heritage Project. Visit: for information.

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