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Memorial Day Ushers in Predictions of Less Sweltering Summer for Santa Monica
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 31, 2016 -- Memorial Day ushered in predictions that the coming summer won’t be quite as sweltering as it was last year in Santa Monica and Southern California in general.

The torturous triple-digit heat waves that characterized both last fall and summer across the region -– even increasing temperatures in cooler coastal cities like Santa Monica – aren’t going away, forecasters said.

But this summer the episodes of intense heat will be somewhat kinder to an already heat-baked populace.

“The good news is there will be a bit of relief,” said Michael Carter, a meteorologist with the Weather Network who analyzes weather patterns in the Southland.

“It will still be hotter than normal, but with fewer heat waves and heat waves that will be shorter and less intense," he told the Lookout. "We’ll have fewer triple-digit days.”

With the arrival of Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer, Carter also said the time had come to say good-bye to El Nino, the global weather pattern that dumped huge amounts of rain and snow further north, but left the promise of record-breaking rainfall in the parched Southland unfulfilled.

Carter and other forecasters say the weather is transitioning to La Nina, which in the U.S. usually means a winter of more rain in the Pacific Northwest, some below-average temperatures in the Northeast and mild conditions for the southern tier.

La Nina is not expected to be a drought-buster for Southern California because, at least historically, it has prevented storms and rain in the state in general, meteorologists say.

“La Nina will keep things calm and dry, at least until fall,” Carter said. “It will still be dry and hot (this summer) but without the exceptional heat.”

Higher-than-average temperatures made Southern California seem like summer during much of 2015, sending record numbers of people fleeing to Santa Monica beaches even in off months.

A nearly five-day heat wave in October alone was the longest of its kind in a quarter of a century for the state and was preceded by another hot stretch the month before that also shattered records.

Temperatures repeatedly reached 100 degrees in the Southland’s interior sections, but the coastal enclaves weren't spared the heat.

Santa Monica temperatures were in the 90s at one point in March –- a period when the state was praying for downpours after disappointing rainfall in the winter.

According to University of Southern California climate data, Santa Monica’s rainfall in 2015 totaled four inches, compared to its annual average of about 13 inches.

Most experts warned that even under the best conditions, El Nino wouldn’t end Southern California’s drought, now entering its fifth year. Still, the hope was that the weather phenomenon would pour down enough rain to help a little.

Carter said that instead, El Nino shifted in a way no one predicted: It created a stubborn weather pattern that diverted precipitation from Southern California and sent it to the northern half of the state and on to Seattle and Vancouver, Canada.


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