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Pattern flip to bring a cooldown to the Southwest

By Alyssa Smithmyer, AccuWeather, Accuweather.com
Pattern flip to bring a cooldown to the Southwest
Two people walk a dog with a view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area on March 24. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Cooler weather is on the horizon for California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico residents.

The record-setting heat that overtook the region in days leading up to the weekend will depart from much of the American Southwest, and lower temperatures will take its place.

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"Thanks to a dome of high pressure sitting over the region, places like Long Beach and Santa Barbara, California, set daily record highs on both Thursday and Friday," explained AccuWeather meteorologist Thomas Geiger.

A few Southern California locations in the vicinity of Los Angeles surpassed their daily record highs by breaking the 100-degree-Fahrenheit mark on Thursday and Friday, including Long Beach, Burbank and Anaheim. Downtown Los Angeles its their daily record high by 3 degrees when the mercury soared to 95 F on Friday.

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In the upcoming days, forecasters say that the jet stream's position will veer southward over the western United States and help to usher a storm into the Northwest Sunday night. As a result, a push of noticeably cooler air will arrive across the Southwest early week, accompanied by wet and even snowy conditions in the higher elevations.

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Even by the end of this weekend, temperatures will be falling from what was observed on Thursday and Friday. San Diego is expected to have daytime high temperatures in the mid-60s on Sunday, a significant drop from the record-breaking high of 95 F observed on Friday.

Cities such as Reno, Nev., which observed near 80-degree daytime highs late week, are forecast to have highs in the upper 40s F by Monday and Tuesday.

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Many locations will be transitioning from temperatures that ranged from 10 to 25 F above average to daytime temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 degrees below average by early week.

"Much of California will see nearly a 30-degree temperature difference from the extreme heat on Thursday and Friday to the cooldown Monday and Tuesday," noted Geiger.

It's not uncommon for fluctuations in temperatures to occur in the Southwest during April. In past years, data has shown that most metro areas throughout the region generally record highs ranging from the lower 60s F to mid-80s F, with averages falling around 70 degrees in April.

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However, the extent and level of the heat observed on Thursday and Friday occurs much less frequently this time of year.

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As the storm arrives along the Northwest coast Sunday night, cooler air will expand southward throughout the West. Showers and mountain snow will dampen portions of Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and the northern Rockies Sunday night.

By Monday, the storm can begin spreading snow as far south as the Klamath Mountains, the southernmost extent of the Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada Range.

As a cold front pushes across the Southwest early week, rain showers will dampen the lower elevations of Northern California, Nevada, and Utah. Occasional showers cannot yet be ruled out in Southern California from Monday to Tuesday.

"The West has been under a substantial drought for some time now, which subsequently led to one of the driest winters on record. Even parts of the Sierra Nevada Range are experiencing some of the lowest snowpacks in history," pointed out Geiger.

While some rain is expected across the valleys and lower elevations, forecasters do not anticipate it significantly impacting the long-term drought situation. General rainfall ranging up to 1 to possibly 2 inches may occur from Sunday night through Tuesday, particularly near coastal regions. However, the areas primarily affected by extreme drought in Central California will not observe as much rainfall compared to areas north of San Francisco.

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