California’s record heat gives way to rain, snow

Record-breaking temperatures – both cold and hot – have variously hit US regions in February, and many are dealing with the weather with a sense of humor.

Damian Dovarganes/AP
Joe Carrillo tries his catch and release fly fishing at the Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles Feb. 8. Gusty Santa Ana winds blew through mountains and valleys of Southern California, raising temperatures well above winter levels and increasing the risk of wildfires as humidity levels fell.

February may have begun with a promise of an early spring, but halfway into the month, the nation has been enduring some unusual winter weather patterns.

This week, Californians are in for a particular shock. After having basked in unseasonable heat over the weekend (while the Northeast contended with record cold), West Coast sunbathers will likely be running for layers as a storm brings cooler air and rain to much of the state on Wednesday and Thursday. The Sierra Nevada mountain range could get as much as two feet of snow.

The cold front already caused record rain and flooding in Washington state, then moved south through Oregon and pushed out the heat wave that had spawned record-high temperatures during the weekend, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The San Francisco Bay Area can expect winds as fast as 45 miles per hour, and the rainstorm could then move further inland to Nevada and Colorado. 

"After a rather lengthy period of quiet weather and high pressure over much of the Intermountain West and California, a strong Pacific cold front and low pressure system is forecast to reach the West Coast by Wednesday afternoon," according to the NWS.

The high temperatures for downtown Los Angeles over the weekend was 90 degrees, breaking the 1977 record of 88. San Francisco and San Diego also beat records set slightly more recently, in 1981 and 2007.

Next door in Arizona, Phoenix had even more winter sun than usual. Temperatures usually hover in the seventies in February but reached the eighties on George Washington's birthday.

Meanwhile, the South has been battered by a slew of unusual winter tornadoes, and the Northeast emerged from one of its coldest Valentine's Day weekends in memory.

The mixed pattern of winter temperatures has created a certain amount of weather envy, even good-humored tension, among friends in the various affected states. John Larson and his sons left their Buffalo, N.Y., home this weekend in below-zero temperatures, then basked at the beach in San Diego, furiously posting sun-soaked photos to Facebook before the weather break on Wednesday.

"Oh yeah, they hate me," he told the Associated Press of the response from friends in New York. "I get quotes like, 'Jerk!' "

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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