Rain returns to Southern California and another storm is coming Tuesday

Storm clouds hang low over Manhattan Beach as an unusual late-season weather system brought rain and below-normal temperatures to the Los Angeles region.
(John Antczak / Associated Press)

Pay no mind to the fact that Memorial Day is around the corner — winter is here again.

Across California, yet another May storm on Sunday brought cool temperatures and rainfall throughout Southern California, hail in the Bay Area and even snow in the Sierra.

“This is May gray on steroids,” said Bill Patzert, a local weather expert and former climatologist with Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Usually by this time of year, we’re done, but this meandering jet stream has been persistent through the spring, and it’s given us four times our normal rainfall.”

Much of the state is seeing two to five times more precipitation than is normal for this point in May, according to the National Weather Service’s river forecast center for California and Nevada.


Patzert notes, however, that in many areas of Southern California that amounts to less than an inch of precipitation for the month.

But the storm also comes after an exceptionally wet winter, an unusually rainy May and another record-setting storm last week.

“What we’re seeing right now, it’s like the whipped cream on the sundae,” Patzert said.


While this year’s rare wet winter lifted California out of the drought for the first time in years, Southern California’s groundwater basins, which were depleted during the dry years, will still take years to refill.

“If anyone’s complaining here, I’m definitely deaf,” Patzert said. “Anyone who thinks we’re out of the drought is what I call drought delusional.”

Downtown Los Angeles typically gets about a quarter of an inch of rainfall for the entire month of May. As of 9 a.m. Sunday, the area had received 0.2 inch of rain in the previous 24 hours.

“If we had gotten this in March, it would have been a typical garden-variety storm,” said Lisa Phillips, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s different because it’s happening now.”


Scattered showers are expected throughout the L.A. region into Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service, though “a rogue thunderstorm can’t be ruled out.”

The rain should taper off Monday, which will bring lower-than-normal temperatures, before a new, weaker storm system moves in Tuesday.

Much of that rain will likely stay north of the Los Angeles area, Phillips said, with a slightly higher chance of showers late in the evening.

L.A. County public health officials have extended a beach advisory, cautioning people to avoid swimming and surfing at county beaches until at least 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Expect cool temperatures well into next week.