Southwestern Drought Linked to Hot SoCal Summer

Hmmmm. My favorite meteorologist, Bill Patzert, yesterday linked the drought in the Southwest–now heading into its eighth year–to the unusually hot summer we’ve been having down here in Southern California. According to the story in the LATimes:

The cool ocean breezes and clouds that meteorologists call Southern California’s natural air conditioner broke down this year, creating record heat that is expected to continue through October.

First, May gray — the marine layer that usually blankets parts of the Southland at the end of spring — pulled a vanishing act. Then, June gloom failed to materialize with any regularity most everywhere but on the coast.

As a result, the Los Angeles region endured a blistering June — the second-hottest on record after 1981 — and the rest of the summer looks to be a scorcher, including this weekend.

"The bottom line is that we skipped spring," said William Patzert, a meteorologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.


Patzert said a drought going into its eighth year in the southwestern United States bears much of the blame for this year’s heat here.

A persistent high pressure system that has been keeping that region even drier than usual has also been pumping subtropical moisture from the Gulf of California and heat from the Mexican desert into Southern California.

Overall, 2006 has been abnormally warm for the United States. The average temperature for the continental U.S. in the first half of the year was the warmest of any year going back to 1895, according to a report released Friday by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Today reached 105 degrees in Ojai. If the Pacific air conditioner has broken down, that means it’ll continue to get hotter…and hotter…and hotter in the weeks to come.

But at least we had a good rain year. Imagine what the fire season would be like with the kind of drought they’re experiencing in Arizona:


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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