Los Angeles endures hottest February on record

By Shawn Price  |  March 1, 2016 at 4:18 AM
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LOS ANGELES, March 1 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles area spent February in record heat instead of record rainfall, analysis revealed.

February's average high temperature was 77.5 degrees, almost two degrees above the previous record in 1954, according to a new analysis by the Los Angeles Times. The National Weather Service is expected to make the same assessment later this week.

On Leap Day, Los Angeles had a high of 74 degrees, completing a 10-day run of unusually warm 70- and 80-degree days. Combine that with a couple of record heat waves during the month and February 2016 was more cause for concern after four years of drought.

Using the average low temperature of 65.9 degrees, the month is narrowly the second warmest February on record behind 1995. And heat records in downtown Los Angeles fell four days in the month, while the state's snowpack shrunk by one quarter over the month.

"It's not that unusual to see a warm period in the middle of our winter," Meteorologist Eric Boldt of the National Weather Service said. "We could be getting into a better pattern of rain in Southern California coming up," he said.

Ultimately the numbers don't necessarily say Los Angeles is getting hotter, but only that the weather can be random.

The temperature readings can also be affected by the changing of the man-made surroundings. In this case, the University of Southern California campus.

"Where are the nearest freeways and sources of pollution? said Kevin E. Trenberth, distinguished senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Construction typically has an urban heat island effect, mainly keeping things warmer at night, but also keeping things drier and so less evaporative cooling. Shading keeps thing cooler. Air conditioning might warm things up outside."

There is far less smog now than there was in the 1970s as well.

"The pollution may affect fog or clouds," Trenberth said. "All of those things matter for records."

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