After record heat, a teasing forecast of rain with a ‘dramatic’ SoCal cool-down

Against a dusk sky, a passerby photographs beach volleyball players on a warm February evening at Main Beach in Laguna Beach
Against a dusk sky, a passerby photographs beach volleyball players on a warm February evening at Main Beach in Laguna Beach. A cooldown that will be ushered in by rain is expected in the Southland starting Tuesday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Get ready for weather whiplash in Southern California.

Sizzling temperatures set daily heat records over the weekend from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, but temperatures are expected to drop dramatically in the next day, ushered in by a spot of rain.

Gusty Santa Ana winds combined with a dome of warm air prompted a sharp spike in temperatures that lasted nearly a week and spurred a multiday heat advisory, according to the National Weather Service.


But a cold system dropping in from the Gulf of Alaska is offering temporary respite — and even a much-needed chance of rain Tuesday, said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard station.

West Los Angeles and Paso Robles broke back-to-back records this weekend. On Saturday, UCLA recorded a high of 89 degrees, one degree higher than the previous record from 1971. Los Angeles International Airport also reached 89 degrees Saturday, breaking its daily record of 88, also set in 1971.

On Sunday, UCLA recorded 87 degrees, again breaking the daily record set in 2015 by a single degree.

Paso Robles topped out at 84 degrees Saturday, surpassing its daily from 1971 by 5 degrees. On Sunday, it topped out at 82 degrees, breaking the 2015 record high of 78 degrees. Paso Robles also broke its monthly record high of 83.

In Ventura County, Oxnard’s recorded 90 degrees on Saturday broke its 2006 record by 3 degrees. Nearby Camarillo hit 89 degrees, breaking its daily record of 87 set in 1971.

Several areas also tied their heat records. Woodland Hills topped out at a sweltering 90 degrees Saturday. That was the daily high set in 2016. Burbank on Sunday reached 88 degrees, tying its record from 1957. And on Sunday, LAX hit 85, similarly matching its record set in 2006.

Sweet called the heat wave in the middle of winter “very unusual.”

Temperatures on Monday were still expected to be warm for this time of year but weren’t expected break any records, he said. Forecast highs include 78 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, 81 in Burbank and Pasadena, 82 in Woodland Hills and 72 in Long Beach.

“We’re in the process of cooling down,” Sweet said. “As a matter of fact, we’re going to cool down quite rapidly and dramatically by tomorrow.”

Highs on Tuesday are expected to top out in the 60s. There’s a possibility of light rain — between one-tenth and a quarter of an inch. At higher elevations in the mountains, there’s a chance of a half-inch of snow.

However, the shift will be short-lived. Dry conditions and gusty winds are forecast to return by the end of the week.

Wednesday is expected to be relatively cool before a gradual warming trend begins Thursday and lasts through Saturday. During that time, offshore winds will return, but Sweet said the strength has yet to be determined.

Though Los Angeles’s precipitation is slightly above average for the water year, January and February — the height of Southern California’s rainy season — have proved troublingly dry.

Downtown L.A. has recorded 10.36 inches since the water year began Oct. 1, much of that during a very wet December. The average is 8.69 inches for this time of year.

“Each day that goes by that we don’t get rain, that’s going to start trending more toward normal,” Sweet said. “Or even below normal, if we don’t get enough rain.”