December Weather Called Nasty but Not a Record-Setter

Times Staff Writer

If you thought December's weather felt colder, rainier, windier and generally more bothersome than usual, you were not alone.

Even National Weather Service spokeswoman Pat Rowe, who gets paid for following weather trends, said the final month of the year seemed "awfully nasty."

But it was not a record-setter. To the surprise of many who were battered and chilled to the bone last month, there have been colder, wetter and windier Decembers.

Orange County's average low of 44 degrees for December, recorded in Santa Ana, was moderate compared to an average low of 39 degrees for all previous Decembers, according to Jim Sleeper, an Orange County historian. "It just wasn't a record-breaker," Sleeper said.

The county's coldest average low temperature for December was 21 degrees, which was recorded twice, Sleeper said, first in 1953 and again in 1968.

In Los Angeles, December's average overall temperature of 54.4 degrees was 3.9% below normal and the coldest since 1978. But it was still about two degrees warmer than the record-shattering average of 52.6 in 1916.

The other two categories of weather also failed to make a dent on the record books.

The monthly rainfall in downtown Los Angeles, which measured 1.84 inches, was slightly below normal for the month of December, according to forecasters. And the winds, which averaged 6 m.p.h., were slower than the usual 6.6 m.p.h. seen at the end of the year.

And in Orange County, December's rainfall total was .63 of an inch below average for the month, officials said. Rainfall of 1.49 inches was recorded, compared to an average of 2.13 inches for previous Decembers, officials said.

Joseph Hunt, an engineering technician for the Orange County Environmental Management Agency, who collects rainfall data, said forecasters had expected much more rain than they actually got.

"Every storm that came by, (weather forecasters) said it was 'the big one,' but the storms never panned out," Hunt said.

Mike Smith of WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times, said the month may have seemed nastier because the intense cold, wind and rain came in spurts. The weather that descended around Christmas was especially brutal for people accustomed to the usual Southern California winters.

"In terms of average monthly temperatures, a two-degree drop is a big variation," Smith said. "So it was still a very very cold month. . . . And some places got more rain than the Civic Center."

Smith said the coming week will bring more rain and humidity, but fairly mild temperatures. A vast blanket of moisture that extends from the coast of central California to Hawaii was expected to move inland today and Wednesday.

Forecasters say that the tropical weather system will bring rain and possibly thundershowers this afternoon and evening, with a decreasing chance of precipitation on Wednesday.

In Orange County, forecasters estimated the chance for measurable rainfall today at 70%, with gusty southeasterly winds ranging from 15 to 25 m.p.h. Temperatures, meanwhile, were expected to reach daytime highs in the upper 50s to low 60s, with overnight lows dipping to 48 degrees. Relative humidity should reach 90% or higher.

Monday's high in Orange County was 69 degrees, recorded in Santa Ana, according to the National Weather Service. The low was 42 degrees in San Juan Capistrano.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World