For the short term, strong high pressure moving back into the Great Basin will usher in another round of Santa Ana Winds over Southern California today through Tuesday.
North to northeast winds have begun to surface in various parts of the Coachella Valley this afternoon, with gusts up to about 25 mph thus far in the Hwy 62 area below Morongo Pass, as well as some areas along Dillon Road in Sky Valley. Easterly winds gusting up to 30 mph are occurring in the Banning Pass along I-10, and north winds have increased in the Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree area. It is likely these winds will continue to blow on and off through Monday afternoon. High temps have soared near 90 today, and will continue to do so through Tuesday. Downsloping (adiabatic warming) associated with these winds will keep breezy areas much warmer the next few nights than calm areas. Temps should be in the low 50's for most calm areas, and may only drop to the mid to upper 60's in areas that see light breezes, especially tonight and Monday night. Time for morning hikes and the pool!
Thursday "storm" appears to be weak - no rain expected for the deserts
Hopes for a wet storm for next Thursday appear to be dwindling at this point. A cold front is expected for Thursday, but the strong high pressure ridge is expected to weaken it so much that we will likely only see an increase in clouds, possibly some gusty west winds, and a drop of temps from near 90 to down near 80 degrees for Thursday and Friday of next week. The High Sierras are expected to get another 1-2 feet of snow with this system, so thankfully they continue to gain snowpack. It is the southern most portion of the state that is on rations yet again.
Long term looks dry for another 7-10 days
Unfortunately, the long term forecasts now look dry for us until the middle of next week, around the 24th of the month. The good news is all the longer range models are showing a return to westerly winds along the equator north of Australia toward Tahiti. This typically causes several large scale changes to the atmosphere, allowing the East Asian Jet Stream to strengthen from east of Japan to the West Coast of the US. This feature will continue to be monitored, as it could be our next best shot at another group of juicy storms for the West Coast toward the end of February and into the first week of March.
february on track to be one of the warmest on record
At the rate we are going, February may go down in history as one of the warmest on record for the Desert Southwest. Our stubborn high pressure system, that was thankfully missing much of this fall and winter, has returned this month... in a pattern annoyingly similar to that found the past several winters. After a cool December and January, we have experienced much above normal temperatures, offshore wind patterns pushing moisture and marine air out to sea and causing bone dry humidity conditions. A lack of rainfall has unfortunately accompanied this pattern, as would be expected, and looks to continue for at least for another week.
El Nino is still technically one of the largest ever on record. The areas of above normal water temperatures have shifted east the past few weeks. Throughout January, the warmest temps were found along the Equator, from West of Hawaii toward the west coast of South America. Currently, cooler water has pushed the concentrated warm waters east a bit closer toward the South American Coast, in a position more similar to previous El Nino conditions. Also, the "warm blob" off the coast of California has diminished in size and intensity the past several months. Many scientists still predict March and April may bring much higher than normal rain and snowfall to California the next 2 months. Time will tell - but it is too soon to write off the rainy season just yet!