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What is with the miserable, muggy weather in SoCal, and when is relief coming?

Sailors hit the water in Marina del Rey.
Looking for relief from the muggy weather, sailors hit the water in Marina del Rey on Monday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Is the heat getting to you?

You are not alone.

Southern California has endured days of sticky conditions, as well as intense heat, periods of heavy rain and even flash flooding. The summer has been scored with temperatures in the triple digits in some inland areas, with temperatures not cooling much at night either.

“It’s monsoon season for SoCal,” said Casey Oswant, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “We’re getting a lot of moisture being pulled up from the Gulf of California.”

Parts of Southern California could experience a surge of monsoonal storms Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing the potential for lightning and flash flooding. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a monsoon?

A monsoonal storm is a shift in wind patterns. Monsoon flows pull moisture up into Arizona, California and Nevada after a shift in the pattern near the upper troposphere and can sometimes last a few days or stretch over longer periods, according to meteorologists.

This means more moisture lingering in the air, along with higher temperatures.

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High pressure is currently passing over southwestern parts of the U.S., causing extra moisture. Just outside California, the dewpoint — which measures water vapor in the air — has been persistently high, according to meteorologist Ashley Nickerson with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

Coastal California gets its hottest days later than the rest of the country.

What are the impacts?

Some parts of the state have seen heavy rainfall in the last few days that has spurred flash floods and debris flows.

  • Meteorologist Sarah McCorkle with the National Weather Service in Monterey said downtown San Francisco saw one of its wettest Julys in recent years.

With a third year of drought, Southern California is facing a hot, dry summer.

What is coming?

Officials say the monsoon conditions will ease over the next few days, with slightly lower temperatures and fewer thunderstorms.

But a new system will strike Friday and last into early next week, with rising heat and chances of more thunderstorms.


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