San Diego's coastal bluffs are showing the effects of El Niño rains. National Weather Service data shows season to date rain totals for Lindbergh Field at 5.87 inches, or 141 percent of normal.
Because of the long drought conditions our area has experienced, the coastal bluffs have had years to dry out and settle. Now, with the large amount of rain we've had, the earth has absorbed the water and is expanding, causing bluff collapse to accelerate everywhere throughout the county.
Photos taken last week illustrate the process and the danger to people that visit the areas. They were taken at the southwestern boundary of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. The crack in the bluff is more than 50 feet long and is above a beach frequented by surfers, Point Loma Nazarene University students, and park visitors.
Surfers informed city lifeguards of the crack on January 17, and they went down to inspect the area. At least two other bluff collapses have occurred south of this area in the past month, and a very large collapse was reported by mariners on the east side of Point Loma below the Cabrillo monument.