It’s been an unnervingly warm and dry December, even for LA.
Temperatures are about 10 to 12 degrees above normal this week, reports CBS 2. Daytime temperatures in mid-80s are expected as the new year approaches, and there’s no rain in sight until next week at best.
In some parts of Los Angeles County, new records have been set. The mercury reached 86 degrees in Woodland Hills on December 27, eclipsing the record of 85 degrees set four years ago.
There’s been no rainy respite from the heat. The average rainfall for Downtown LA in December is 2.33 inches, National Weather Service meteorologist Robbie Munroe tells Curbed. This month, Downtown LA has received just .01 inch of rain.
That’s not cause for panic in itself, as Munroe says January and February are usually LA’s biggest months for rain. But even if LA receives a normal amount of rainfall in those months, it could still add up to a below average rainfall total in the end, since we’re already “already considerably below normal” rainfall levels for the season, Munroe says.
LA would need above average rainfall in January through March to get back up to what’s considered normal for LA, but right now forecasters think it’s more likely we’ll have an underwhelming, below-average rainy season.
Munroe says LA is experiencing weak La Niña conditions. That’s the weather phenomenon where temperatures drop below normal in the central and eastern equatorial areas of the Pacific Ocean. Those conditions are often accompanied by storm-blocking ridges occurring off the coast near Southern California—ridges known for pushing rain-bringing storms away from SoCal.
We’ve seen this ridge effect before. A couple of years ago, a “ridiculously resilient” ridge pushed tons of powerful storms away from the LA area, keeping us bone dry and locked in a drought while the Pacific Northwest was repeatedly drenched.
There’s no guarantee history will repeat itself this year, though, and the deciding months for rain are still ahead.