An ‘abnormal,’ monsoon-like weather pattern hits Southern California

Storm clouds form over a river
Monsoon-like storm clouds form over the Colorado River on Oct. 1 in Blythe, Calif.
(David McNew / Getty Images)

An “abnormal” weather pattern blowing around Southern California is sprinkling the coast with rain and lightning, and it’s looking a lot like a monsoon, according to weather experts.

Following Southern California’s usual mid-July to September monsoon season, the area generally transitions into Santa Ana winds season. But this year, the monsoon season looks to the naked eye like it is extending, though experts say it’s a mirage.

“It’s not an extension of our monsoon season. The end result is the same but the reason for it is different. So it’s not a classic monsoon by any stretch,” said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

In monsoon season, a high-pressure weather pattern hanging over the Four Corner states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico causes winds to rotate clockwise around and hit Southern California with muggy air or rain.

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Right now, a low-pressure system has been parked about 50 miles off the coast and the wind is blowing counterclockwise around it.


The “abnormal” system is leading to rain and thunderstorms along the Southern California coast, Kittell said.

“It’s been several days. That’s part of the rarity of the event. We’re gonna have these chances of thunderstorms through Saturday. The length of it is pretty rare,” Kittell said.

Though it probably won’t rain in the metro Los Angeles area Thursday or Friday, Kittell said Saturday has a decent chance of precipitation in the city.

“This rarer weather should end Saturday and then Sunday through Wednesday should have a break and some projections are showing another low-pressure system on Thursday or Friday of next week,” he said.