Some hope on the way for parched Southern Calif., Desert Southwest this week
Following a February that ranked among one of the driest on record for several major cities in the Southwest, AccuWeather meteorologists are tracking a storm that will bring needed precipitation to the region and, for some, the first meaningful rainfall since late January.
Any news of precipitation is good news after a lackluster winter season led to no dents being made in the widespread severe to exceptional drought conditions in place.
On average, February is the wettest month of the year in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, but this year that norm could not have been further from the truth.
Despite an average rainfall of 3.80 inches during February, downtown Los Angeles only picked up a trace last month, an occurrence that has only happened four other times in February (1885, 1896, 1900 and 1964), according to climatology data compiled by the National Weather Service. There have only been three instances (1912, 1933 and 1984) when no rain has fallen in February. The Los Angeles International Airport picked up 0.02 of an inch of rain in February, also well below normal.
San Diego did not fair much better last month, picking up only 0.10 of an inch of rain, compared to a normal of 2.27 inches, while Las Vegas received a meager 0.01 of an inch of rain, or 1% of its monthly average.
"February also ended up very dry across Arizona, with no measurable rain in Phoenix and Tucson. Even Flagstaff only picked up 0.73 of an inch of rain and melted snow this month, which is 34% of average," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and western U.S. blogger Brian Thompson said.
Forecasters say that these unusual dry streaks will come to an end around the middle of the week as a storm system sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean.
A storm is projected to push inland across Southern California into Wednesday night and then on to the interior Southwest by Thursday.
This storm will bring just enough rain to make roads slick in Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Roadways that have built up a layer of oil on the surface during the dry stretch could turn particularly slippery at the onset of any precipitation, making it very important for drivers to use caution as the rain moves in.
The anticipated fast-forward motion of the storm should limit any meaningful rainfall in these areas to a general four- to eight-hour window.
AccuWeather meteorologists expect a general 0.25-0.50 of an inch of rain to fall in coastal areas of Southern California, with higher amounts possible along the southwest-facing slopes of the mountains. Across the desert areas of the Southwest, rainfall amounts of 0.15 of an inch or less are anticipated.
It is possible that the storm manufactures enough cold air for some snowflakes to fly in the high terrain east of San Diego, but forecasters say there is a much higher likelihood of accumulating snowfall across the mountains of northern Arizona, Utah's Wasatch Range and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico from Wednesday night through Thursday.
Drier conditions will spread from west to east across the region late in the week, but by this point a new system will be knocking on the doorstep of the West Coast. This next storm looks to target areas farther north, such as Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, late in the week and early in the weekend.
However, there is hope for more rain and mountain snow to reach much of California by early next week.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier, Spectrum, Fubo, and Verizon Fios.Report a Typo
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