El Cajón, the Spanish word for "box", was first recorded on September 10, 1821, as an alternative name for sitio rancho Santa Mónica, describing the "boxed in" nature of the valley in which it sat. The name appeared on maps in 1873 and 1875 as shortened to just "Cajon" until the modern town developed where the post office was named "Elcajon." In 1905, the name was once again expanded to "El Cajon" when California banker and historian, Zoeth Skinner Eldredge, insisted that the words be separated.[
El Cajon is located at (32.798300, -116.960055). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.4 square miles (37 km2), all land. It is bordered by San Diego and La Mesa on the west, Spring Valley on the south, Santee on the north, and unincorporated San Diego County on the east. It includes the neighborhoods of Fletcher Hills, Bostonia, and Rancho San Diego.
Under the Köppen climate classification system, El Cajon straddles areas of Mediterranean climate (CSa) and semi-arid climate (BSh). As a result, it is often described as "arid Mediterranean" and "semi-arid Steppe". Like most inland areas in Southern California, the climate varies dramatically within a short distance, known as microclimate. El Cajon's climate has greater extremes compared to coastal San Diego. The farther east from the coast, the more arid the climate gets, until one reaches the mountains, where precipitation increases due to orographic uplift.[better source needed]
El Cajon's climate is warm during summer with mean temperatures averaging 70.1 °F (21.2 °C) or higher and cool during winter with mean temperatures averaging 55.4 °F (13.0 °C) or higher.
The warmest month of the year is August with an average maximum temperature of 88.1 °F (31.2 °C), while the coldest month of the year is December with an average minimum temperature of 40.3 °F (4.6 °C).
Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate with an average difference of 24°F (13°C) during the summer, and an average difference of 26°F (14°C) during the winter.
The annual average precipitation at El Cajon is 11.96 inches (30.4 cm). Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the winter months, but rare in summer. The wettest month of the year is March with an average rainfall of 2.66 inches (6.8 cm).
The record high temperature was 113 °F (45 °C) on June 14, 1917; September 1, 1955; July 22, 2006; and September 27, 2010. The record low temperature was 19 °F (−7 °C) on January 8, 1913. The wettest year was 1941 with 28.14 inches (71.5 cm) and the dryest year was 1989 with 1.51 inches (3.8 cm). The most rainfall in one month was 11.43 inches (29.0 cm) in January 1993. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 5.60 inches (14.2 cm) on January 27, 1916. A rare snowfall in November 1992 totaled 0.3 inches (0.76 cm). 3 inches of snow covered the ground in January 188232°47′54″N 116°57′36″W / 32.79833°N 116.96000°W / 32.79833; -116.96000
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