L.A.'s toasty streak sets a record

Another toasty day in downtown Los Angeles on Monday marked nine straight days of temperatures above 80 degrees, a record for January. Last year, L.A. broke a record for hottest October.

So when is L.A. going to break a record for much needed rain? Probably not soon in this La Nina-baked year, meteorologists say. But the region should get some rain starting Wednesday.

“We’re finally in for a regime change,” said Jamie Meier, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s expected to cool things down considerably.”

For a while, L.A. seemed to be on a path to a normal rain year. But since a series of storms in December, the region has become parched and Santa Ana wind-blown. L.A. is about an inch below normal for rain for this time of year, Meier said.

The heat streak is expected to end today, with temperatures in the high 70s, Meier said. A series of light to moderate rains could arrive Wednesday and continue through Monday.


Still, Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, said it is a bad sign when January, normally one of the year’s wettest months, is so dry. It’s also been three degrees warmer than usual, he said.

The equatorial Pacific Ocean’s waters are cooler than usual.

That means La Nina conditions, which often bring colder weather and heavier rainfall from the Pacific Northwest to the northeast but drier conditions to Southern California and much of the Southwest.

The snowpack in the northern, eastern and central Sierra has been “puny,” Patzert said.

“We just had 10 days in a row of humidity less than 10% and record high temperatures in January,” he said. “That’s definitely not a good omen.”

The temperature streak in the 80s is even more noteworthy because the downtown L.A. weather station is on the USC campus, several miles closer to the cooling ocean than where it previously was, Patzert said.

“When they moved the station to USC, it made downtown L.A. one degree cooler,” he said. “So this record is even bigger than it looks.”