People visiting Los Angeles for the first time often expect clear skies, sunshine and warm weather all year long, which is actually what you might find at any time. However, they are not prepared for the summer heat or the summer chill. In fact, at any given moment summer temperatures can vary 20 or more degrees (F) from the beach to the valleys. Winter differences are less extreme. Here are some interesting things to note about LA weather.
- Although winter is the rainy season in LA, it is also the clear season, compared to our summers, which are dry, but overcast, especially at the beaches.
- Average inland temperatures vary by 20 degrees from winter to summer. Average beach temperatures vary by less than 10 degrees from winter to summer.
- The Winter Bounce. When you look at the average high temperature, keep in mind that in summer, the average high temperature may last for a good portion of the day. In winter, we may hit the high temperature mid-afternoon for a few minutes before the mercury starts descending again.
- Light colored clothing is best on sunny days, whether it’s summer or winter. The sun is hot in winter and spring, even though the air is cool, so a dark jacket or even a long-sleeved black shirt can make you uncomfortably hot. It can be difficult to find a comfortable compromise when the sun is hot and the breeze is cold.
- On sunny and hazy days, heat reflected off the pavement or sand can increase the temperature significantly. Even though the mercury may read 80 degrees, it may feel more like 90 if you’re on a walking tour of Hollywood, or wandering around an amusement park.
- We talk about June Gloom to describe a phenomenon when the clouds from the ocean – called the marine layer – come inland over the beaches and sometimes all the way to the valleys. What the Convention and Visitors Bureaus don’t like to admit is that in LA beach communities June Gloom can start in May and last until September. Usually in July and August the clouds burn off by noon and the sun comes out at the beach. If you’re planning a summer morning at the beach, take a sweatshirt.
- Unlike other parts of the country where people pack their sweaters and jackets away at the first sign of summer, in LA, summer evenings are cool. Sidewalk cafes have outdoor heaters, but you’ll want to have that jacket along, even if you don’t go near the beach.
- The exception to the rule is when we have Santa Ana Conditions. This is when hot winds blow from the mountains all the way to the beach, bringing visibly bad air quality and high fire danger. They also bring rare warm nights to the beach. The Santa Ana winds occur most often in late summer, but can occur any time of year.
- Expect the unexpected. Despite the averages, you could easily encounter a week of 80 degree weather in midwinter and a week of 68 degree weather in midsummer, so look at forecasts before you pack.
The next two pages contain charts of average temperatures for each month in popular Southern California destinations to help with planning your visit. The first chart covers beach cities, the second inland cities. In addition to the average number of rain days per month, I have included the average number of days with fog, since the fog and clouds are much more prevalent than rain.
The last page includes links to great resources and web cams to see what the weather is like right now.