A rare third year of La Niña is on deck for California, forecasters say, with sea levels rising due to global warming and more and more residents living near the coast. A strong El Niño keeps the Pacific’s heat content in check. But if it breaks, it will be a disaster for the state. The result is a long, hot, dry winter; a weak, erratic spring followed by a long, hot, dry summer; and possibly torrential downpours over the whole summer.
The situation is similar here in the Inland Empire — another warm-weather climate region, with the mountains to the south and deserts to the north and east. But the coast will likely get by with just a little damp. The Inland Empire is seeing only a very modest La Niña effect at the moment, a result of the Pacific’s “blocking” effect, a warming of the ocean off the coast that prevents much moisture from making it to the dry and parched inland. As the La Niña effect weakens, the dry-season rain and snowstorms and the occasional flood will become more common; but in the worst case, the region will get a deluge of rain in the late December-to-mid-April window.
The best that anybody can hope for is that the rain will be accompanied by a wet wind, a rare occurrence for this region in the current dry season. It won’t be an exact match to the drought of the past year, but it should be close.
But the worst of it comes on the first day of winter. In the Inland Empire, the first day of winter is Wednesday. Here in the San Gabriel Valley, it’s Tuesday.
That’s when the wet wind hits. It won’t be a heavy wet, nor a thunderstorm, nor a whirlwind; but it will be windy enough to drive rain sideways into the valleys, in the opposite direction from the rain of the past 12 weeks.
The result is total, or near total, dryness across Southern California.
In the Inland Empire, there’s a similar story. On Tuesday, the dry weather will move into the San Gabriel Valley after sunset, then over the next few days push into the Los Angeles Basin and Riverside County in the hours before dawn.
The dry wind, though