Are you ready for summer?
Yeah — that's a strange question to ask in February, especially during a year in which some experts have predicted record rain for Southern California as a result of unusually warm El Niño conditions along the equatorial Pacific.
In years past, specifically 1983 and 1998, the phenomenon produced phenomenal precipitation by drawing in subtropical moisture and adding it to storms marching down the coast from the north.
This year, however, the door to this “pineapple express” has been mostly closed. Next week we could be seeing record high temperatures in Los Angeles, with no rain in sight.
“It doesn't look like there's rain in the forecast for the next seven days,” said Scott Sukup, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
In fact, we'll be getting a heat wave.
High temperatures in downtown L.A. this time of year are in the high 60s, Sukup said. On Monday and Tuesday we could see temperatures in the Los Angeles Basin reach the mid- and high 80s, he said.
But — wait for it — valley areas could actually reach the 90s, Sukup said.
It will start to cool off Wednesday, but there's still no precipitation in the forecast, he said.
A Santa Ana pattern has been setting up, with a high-pressure system over Southern California helping to boost those temperatures.
The ocean still thinks El Niño is boss around here, and a high-surf advisory for the L.A. County coast was in effect until 9 tonight, Sukup said.
Santa Ana winds will also be kicking up, with NWS wind advisories for local mountains, the Santa Clarita Valley and the western San Fernando Valley in effect through this afternoon, he said.
Temps will be above normal today and Saturday — reaching the 70s — with 80s possible on Sunday, he said.
Even though El Niño has sent three decent storms our way since the beginning of the year, rainfall is below normal. Sukup said normal is 7.62 inches from Oct. 1 through yesterday. Downtown L.A. (USC) has 4.2 inches so far.
Why has the phenomenon almost been shut out of Southern California this year after much hype about a rainy winter? Weather West's California Weather Blog recently presented a theory of one possible culprit, though it didn't necessarily endorse it: global warming.
“It’s impossible to ignore the fact that global temperatures in late 2015 and early 2016 have reached their highest levels in recorded human history,” the blog states. “It is possible that this spatial pattern of warming may be playing a role in the particular atmospheric configuration that has resulted from the 2015-2016 El Niño event.”
El Niño still has time to do his thing, though. In heavy-weather El Niños of the past, some of the biggest storms came in March.
“There's still some time,” Sukup says. “It's still possible to get above-normal rainfall when all is said and done.”
Forecasters have said January through March is when we should get rain. Not a drop of precipitation is forecast through mid-February. “The dry conditions are expected to continue into next week, potentially lasting all the way into Valentine's Day weekend,” states private forecaster AccuWeather.
If that holds, then, El Niño will have six weeks to show us some action.
He's cutting it close.