Environment & Science

Record-breaking SoCal heat wave continues — but rain could be coming

Sanden Totten / KPCC

Warm, gusty Santa Ana winds combined with a strong high-pressure system has kept it hot in the greater Los Angeles area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Stuart Seto. More records could be broken Monday and Tuesday, Seto said, with some already broken by early Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Santa Ana winds do normally make things warm in February, but it usually only lasts two to three days, Seto said, but an extended high pressure system from the last seven to eight days combined with the Santa Anas to create the record temperatures we've seen over the last week and a half.

"It's an extended period of high pressure that's really keeping us warm. It's like summertime," Seto said.

That high pressure system will be replaced by a low pressure system Wednesday going into Thursday, bringing with it about a 50 percent chance of rain starting Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon, Seto said. But another high pressure system is coming late Saturday and Sunday, bringing temperatures back into the 80s early next week.

"This is basically the same pattern we've had over the last four years, which has kept us in a drought. So this one's going to make year number five so far, as this high-pressure area keeps most of the storms to the north of us when we normally get our rainfall in the winter months," Seto said.

The mountains and northern California are benefiting from El Niño, with a good snowpack in the mountains, which provides about a third of Southern California's water, Seto said. But SoCal is still suffering without rain.

Downtown L.A., Long Beach, UCLA and Camarillo were spots that looked like records could potentially be set Monday or Tuesday, Seto said. Most of the records there were in the mid- to upper-80s. As of early Monday afternoon, records were already broken in downtown L.A., at LAX and in Westwood, according to the National Weather Service.

Some gusts early Monday made it over 60 miles per hour, especially in the mountain areas, Seto said. Malibu, San Fernando and Porter Ranch saw gusts around 45 mph, while most areas around the region had gusts in the upper 20s or early 30s.

A wind advisory was in effect Monday until 3 p.m.

"But the winds won't just shut off. They'll keep going around 15 to 25, probably into early Tuesday," Seto said.

There's still the warmer water near the equator, known as El Niño, Seto said, with temperatures that compare to strong El Niño years — but it's not materializing as rain this time around.

"Usually in a strong El Nino year, we do get a lot of rainfall, but so far, we're still going to have to hope on this year," Seto said.

There remains eleated fire weather concern, Seto said, but no red flag warnings are in place. He recommended being careful in the mountain passes, as strong, gusty crosswinds could pose a danger to high-profile vehicles and motorcycles.

This story has been updated.