Without a 'March miracle,' drought-like conditions will continue in Southern California

Southern Californians can expect dry conditions and above-average heat this week as a stubborn high-pressure system continues to block the heavily anticipated El Niño rainstorms that weather officials warned of over the winter.

From Monday to Wednesday, coastal temperatures in Los Angeles County will hover in the low- to mid-70s and low- to mid-80s downtown and inland, according to meteorologist David Sweet of the National Weather Service.

Though temperatures will cool slightly over the weekend, there is no rain in the forecast for at least the next 10 days, Sweet said.

Though experts predicted that the Pacific warming phenomenon known as El Niño could bring consecutive downpours to Southern California between January and March -- now some say as late as April -- nothing of the sort has occurred since the first week of the year.

That’s because a high-pressure system hovering over the Eureka, Calif., area has deflected most of the moisture and cooler temperatures that would flow south to Los Angeles and beyond, Sweet said. To emphasize his point, Sweet pointed out that downtown L.A. has receive only 4.99 inches of rain since Oct. 1. The historical average by the end of February is 10 inches, he said.

This February has also been more than eight degrees warmer than its historical average, Sweet said.

“The current pattern is like the drought pattern from these last four years,” Sweet said. “If March doesn’t come through, and April and May are typically drier months, we might be out of time by then.”

Southern California needs a “March miracle” to avoid a fifth year of drought-like conditions locally, he said.

But there is a silver lining for Californians, he said. Though the high-pressure system may be blocking storms in Southern California, vital rain and snow is being steered toward the Sierra Nevada, which is seeing its highest snowpack in years.

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