So, Los Angeles, how do you like your winter season?

Palm Trees outside Union Station
Palm Trees outside Union Station, photo taken by yours truly!

That’s right, guys. It’s now February and Los Angeles has now experienced maybe–maybe–two weeks worth of winter. According to the National Weather Service, yesterday was a wonderful 77 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, with the rest of our fine city peaking in the mid 80s. In the middle of winter.

How are you enjoying our notoriously fine weather?

16 thoughts on “So, Los Angeles, how do you like your winter season?”

  1. The boy & I are sick and don’t want to see the sun, so my plan is to obtain an Outdoors Proxy and tip the Thai delivery guy to drive back with his windows down.

  2. Out walking along the river every chance I get, even if they have it turned off still. Cleaning up the garden, washing waxing cars. Out and about. Using my wife’s car as it has a sunroof and just soaking in the rays when I can.

    I have to admit I really love this weather. However the rational side keeps reminding me to pray for rain as this drought is so entrenched that we will really suffer if we don’t get significant rain. Not just for the LA area, but tons of rain to finally break the 9year and counting drought in the watersheds that feed our thirst for water.

    Of course if we don’t get even close to usual rainfall we are at risk again to have a very early fire season and one that is potentially one of the most devastating in ages.

  3. I grew up here so I really don’t know any better (or worse). It was a glorious day to be out and about on my bike!


  4. I’m loving it! Sunday morning hikes have been gorgeous and I’ve been photographing my dogs outdoors. (I’m not so skilled at indoor photography). Windows open, not running the heater…it’s all wonderful. The winds are kicking up my allergies, but I’ll take some sniffles and itchy eyes over snow and ice any day!

  5. I absolutely love winter in LA, and not just for the warm dry weather – it’s when the oranges ripen, the camellias and primroses and violets bloom, when the hills turn green and the waterfalls come back to life and the city is washed clean of its summertime dust and grit.

    And while I’d concur that I’d really like to see a bit more rain than we’re getting this year, I’d still disagree with the notion that we’ve ‘only had maybe two weeks of winter.’

    Here in LA, this is what winter looks like. I’ve been pointing out the “Little Santa Anas” of January to people for years. Warm, dry offshore flow is just as typical of January as it is of October and November. It’s just a bit cooler, is all. :-)

    Winter in LA has both cool, wet, gray periods and warm, dry clear periods. We’ve had a bit less of the former and a bit more of the latter this year than on average, but that’s not at all unusual – “average” weather is the one sort we rarely get: it’s almost always either warmer and wetter or cooler and drier than average, so either of those can be considered “typical.”

    And both of them are winter. Around here, this is what winter looks like.

  6. I haven’t been here long enough to know whether this is normal or unseasonably warm. If it’s warmer than usual, which I think was the point of the post, am I the only one who has “Global Warming” lurking in the back of my mind? Part of the problem in communicating the urgency about global warming is that, for many people, the results are quite pleasant for the time being. If instead the problem was “Global Colding” or “Global Sleeting” or “Global Frogs,” people might have more of a negative view about it, and a sense of urgency about solving it.

  7. Matt, you may not be the only one thinking ‘Global Warming’; but really, no, this year’s winter weather isn’t all that unusual.

    LA tends to go through warm’n’dry/cool’n’wet cycles, with each phase lasting around 4-7 years. The El Niño climate pattern is associated with some of our wettest, coolest years, while the La Niña pattern (which we’re currently enjoying) tends to produce warmer, drier winters.

    There were hotter, drier drought years back in the 1860s – which followed hard on the heels of the wettest, stormiest winter ever recorded, in 1861-62.

    That one-two punch of severe flooding followed by severe, prolonged drought (which coincided with the collapse of the lucrative beef markets of the Northern California Gold Rush) was what mostly ended the days of livestock ranching in Southern California, and forced so many of the prominent Californio owners of the vast Mexican and Spanish land grants to sell their holdings to immigrant Yankee farmers and real-estate developers.

    (And besides, Global Warming isn’t really that simple: Some places will get hotter and drier; other places will get colder and wetter. Severe weather, both drought and flood, will likely become more extreme – but we haven’t seen anything yet as extreme as the floods and droughts of the 1860s.)

  8. It’s been great – spent Saturday wandering around Downtown with my camera. Although I actually enjoy a bit of East Coast-style freezing cold weather / turning of the seasons, I have to admit SoCal weather is a lot more comfortable and convenient.

  9. A lot of good knowledge dropped by lamapnerd in these comments, but I just wanted to chime in–SoCal is one of the few places on earth that has a Mediterranean climate. This is what winter is like in these places. It’s a rare climate system–just in California, the Mediterranean (obviously), a few parts of the Australian coast, the southern tip of South Africa, and central Chile.

  10. Good point, Evan.

    Folks, don’t ever let anyone* tell you that “LA is in the middle of the desert.”

    It isn’t. A Mediterranean climate is not at all the same thing as a desert climate.

    Lancaster, Palmdale, Barstow, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Tucson – all those are desert cities. Not Los Angeles.

    * Not even the LA Times. They’ve been doing it for at least half a century, but they’re still wrong.

  11. Having lived in SoCal for a long, long time, so far (Feb 2)this is one of the warmest winters in memory. It would be interesting to see if statistics back me up.

  12. Matt…LA Mapnerd hit our climate spot on. For a little illustration. 2005 was one of our coldest and wettest on records, 3rd wettest in our 100+ years. Classic el nino pattern.

    2006 was one of our driest. I was building my studio and remodeling the house at that time. We had one rain in Dec 05 right after we broke ground then it dried up and not a single rain delay Jan and Feb. Only a little rain in March when stucco had to go on. June in a la nina year is hotter and drier also, that summer we had the back part of the house open and no A/C and there were several 100+ days.

    I intend to enjoy what is left of our warm weather by heading out and walking the dried up San Gabriel River today. Or maybe head into the city. DK but it is too nice to be indoors.

  13. Northlight, yes, this was indeed one of the warmest Januarys in memory – or even on record. But it still wasn’t a record-breaker.

    Bear in mind, also, that both ‘living memory’ and (at least here in LA) ‘recorded history’ aren’t really all that long when you’re trying to evaluate climate trends.

    Just as an example, the floods and droughts of the 1860s, which I described above, usually aren’t included in record reports, since formal, standardized weather records weren’t kept here until the 1870s.

    Yet we know, from anecdotal evidence, that those flood and drought years were both wetter and drier (and most likely hotter, though probably not colder) than anything we’ve seen since.

    But they’re never included when the “[warmest|driest|coldest|wettest] [winter|summer|month|year] in history” is being calculated, due to the lack of formal standardized records.

    And even with that in mind, a quick look at local climate data confirms that this January, while warmer and drier than most, was still no record-breaker.

    The Januarys of both 1986 and 2003 were warmer overall (higher average High, Mean, and Low Temps) than January of 2009.

    And those are definitely in ‘living memory’ for some of us. :-)

    Those are, in fact, the only two years on record that were warmer by all three of those measures – though quite a few years have had warmer average lows.

    And many Januarys have been drier. This year’s January didn’t even make the ‘Top Ten’ list of ‘Driest Januarys On Record.’

    So, yeah, one of the warmest Januarys on record, but by no means the warmest.

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