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A wet and wild year for Southern California weather

2023 has been a memorable year for weather events, from feet of snow in the mountains to record heat in the summer.

For the first time in the history of the National Weather Service San Diego Office, a Blizzard Warning was issued.

Dumping feet of snow, San Bernardino mountain communities would become stranded for more than a week.

Less than six months later, Palm Springs reached its peak temperature for the year of 120°, part of a record heatwave that created issues for airlines. Even with the extreme high temperatures, overall, this year has been on the milder side looking back at the temperature averages, both highs and lows.

Seismically, things were pretty "normal". The largest magnitude nearby was a 4.8 near Ocotillo in late November, 1 of 7 earthquakes this year (within the mapped area) with a magnitude of 4.0 or greater.

At the beginning of January, more than 27% of California was in 'extreme' drought. By mid-December, less than 4% of the entire state was 'abnormally dry'. Similar conditions haven't been seen since early 2020.

It's certainly been a beneficial year of rain for this desert climate. Looking specifically at Palm Springs International Airport, as of December 26th, there had been 21 days of measurable rain totaling 7.11'. This surpasses what was recorded in 2022 (1.18") as well as the average for the year (4.61").

The biggest rain event of the year was Tropical Storm Hilary. With more than 3" of rain recorded, Palm Springs received almost 70% of its annual rainfall in just over a day. The impacts of the flooding continue to be seen from road closure to construction, to dust blowing into the air impacting air quality.

To review more on Hilary, watch this.

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Haley Clawson


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