Storms such as those that struck North County in the early 1980s remove large amounts of sand from the beaches.
But violent weather can also work to deposit sand along the coast.
In 1916, more than 10 inches of rain fell near Camp Pendleton within a week. The river and coastal flooding that followed caused the beaches to swell to nearly 1,000 feet wide.
Weather observers note that heavy rains recorded early in this century and in the previous century have not been seen in recent decades. Meanwhile, dams have been built to control the flooding that does occur--and in the process limit the arrival of large amounts of new sand from rivers.
In earlier times, the beach was wide enough to be used as a roadway.
The 1889 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Topographical Survey reported that "from Muscle Rocks (near Torrey Pines) there is an unbroken sand beach for 40 or 50 miles, or as far north as the valley of San Juan Capistrano. In former times this stretch of beach was used whenever specially fast time was to be made on the route to Los Angeles via Capistrano to San Diego."