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It rained in Palm Springs on June 23 for the first time in a century

People visit the Forever Marilyn in Palm Springs.
People visit the Forever Marilyn statue on its return to Palm Springs on Sunday. Three days later, Palm Springs had rainfall — the city’s first recorded rainfall on June 23 since 1922.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

Rainfall in June in Southern California is pretty rare, but in Palm Springs, it’s unheard of.

That changed Wednesday, though, when a smidge of precipitation — barely three hundredths of an inch — sprinkled the region amid overcast skies.

The shower marked the first rain Palm Springs has recorded on that day — June 23 — since at least 1922, when the desert city began tracking precipitation, according to Elizabeth Schenk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s San Diego station. Temperature records in the city date to 1893, she said.

A low pressure system over coastal waters drew “remnant moisture” from a tropical system off the coast of Mexico, generating a smattering of thunderstorms over the mountains and into the desert, said Bruno Rodriguez, another meteorologist with the weather service’s San Diego station.

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Palm Springs, known for its arid climate, typically does see precipitation in the summer, but not this early. Monsoon season generally arrives in July and August.

“It’s definitely pretty rare,” Rodriguez said of Wednesday’s rain.

The isolated showers developed over Orange County on Thursday morning and moved into the San Gabriel Valley, the National Weather Service said.

Showers began around 11 a.m. and then returned at 3:30 p.m. Despite the rain, the high temperature for the day was 100 degrees — a few notches below average.

And that modest cooling isn’t expected to last, forecasters say. The low pressure area is weakening, and temperatures could spike above 115 degrees Sunday and into next week.

Temperatures could change Wednesday and Thursday, when there is some indication monsoon moisture might bring additional precipitation, Rodriguez said.

It “could trigger something, but it’s a little far out and still pretty uncertain,” he said.

Even if more rain arrives, it’s unlikely to make a dent in Palm Springs’ below-average rainfall for the year.

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Before Wednesday, the city last received a measurable amount of rain March 11, 0.01 of an inch. There have been only “traces” of rain since then, Schenk said.

Since Oct. 1, the beginning of the rainy season, the city has received only 0.86 of an inch of rain — more than 3 inches less than the 3.98 inches typically recorded during that period.

Palm Springs is far from the only place experiencing drier-than-normal conditions in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom in May declared a drought emergency in 41 of California’s 58 counties.

About a month later, a blistering heat wave blanketed Southern California, driving up temperatures into the triple digits in places.


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