Venice Pier in the sun
Venice Pier in the sun

WTF Happened to Winter?

This past winter came on strong and surpassed a normal season's worth of rain by early February. The drought was wiped out in Northern California. And a little more than three weeks ago we saw the strongest storm of the season. And now?

Today you could get burned spending 20 minutes outdoors; officials yesterday warned that air quality would be unhealthy in the East San Gabriel Valley; and desert wildflowers are blooming in an explosion of spring color.

Scientists and forecasters are loath to say the rainy season is over. But it sure feels like it. The National Weather Service's three-month outlook says Los Angeles has a 42 percent chance of above-normal temperatures through June. "We are sort of on a trend of having warmer and warmer years in general," says Daniel McEvoy, assistant research professor of climatology at the Western Regional Climate Center in Nevada.

"Right now the rain chances don't look good," adds Stuart Seto, an NWS weather specialist. Winter officially ends Sunday night.

This month, an international coalition of scientists known as World Weather Attribution concluded that a warm winter and early spring across North America were likely caused by global warming. "Winter months like this will become increasingly common due to past and continued carbon emissions," Gabriel Vecchi, professor at Princeton University's Geosciences Department, said in a statement.

A few weeks of warm weather in Southern California, however, won't provide local scientists enough evidence for links to global warming, says Jin-Yi Yu, an earth system science professor at UC Irvine. "It's difficult to say what's going to happen in the next few months," he says.

Seto of the NWS warns that healthy rain is still possible through at least April, a month that produces an average of 1 inch of precipitation in Los Angeles. "Even though we had a pretty good dry spell here, it doesn't mean we can't get more rain in the later part of March and April," he says.

Locally temperatures will remain high, cooling by just a few degrees throughout the week, until the weekend, when we could see a 10 percent chance of rain, according to Seto. The forecast high for downtown tomorrow is 82. Normal is about 68. Monday could see a near-normal high of 71 degrees, Seto says.

Normal is something L.A. hasn't seen in a while.

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