After this week’s near-record heat, California will return to cooler weather in mid-May

Map showing cooler temperatures expected in California
Temperatures are likely to be below normal in much of California after the heat wave passes.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

After a summer-like pattern of high pressure and offshore flow prevailing through at least Thursday in Southern California, much cooler conditions and a thicker marine layer will begin to return Friday and over the weekend into early next week, the National Weather Service said.

In Northern California, a robust cooling trend could be accompanied by light rain, and light showers and drizzle are possible along the Central Coast next week.

The temperature outlook produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for May 12-16 calls for below-normal temperatures for most of California, while much of the surrounding western U.S. is about normal.

High pressure and clear skies dominated in a satellite photo of California
High pressure and clear skies dominated in a satellite photo of California taken at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The snow-capped Sierra Nevada were easily seen.
(Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere & Los Angeles Times)


A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure over all of California kept skies clear on Wednesday afternoon. A few high clouds could be seen streaming across the Central Coast in a satellite photo, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada were easily visible.

An upper-level trough that was in the north Pacific Wednesday will move east to the California coast by Monday evening, bringing an increase in onshore flow with low clouds and fog pushing into the valleys each night and morning.

While this may be the last cooler and wetter interlude of the season in Northern California, as UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain points out, it may help to temporarily tamp down the presently above-average wildfire risk.