Los Angeles is renowned for its temperate climate, which allows visitors to enjoy the summer sun while remaining reasonably mild in the winter. Due to its subtropical climate which has been closely compared to the Mediterranean, LA has seasons of moderate rainfall. But, many people wonder if Los Angeles has thunderstorms to go along with the rain.
Although it does rain in Los Angeles, especially in the winter and spring, thunderstorms are a rare occurrence. This is because the LA climate lacks the specific ingredients necessary to produce a thunderstorm most of the time.
Knowing why thunderstorms are rare in Los Angeles takes an understanding of what a thunderstorm needs to develop. Keep reading to learn more about the weather in LA and why thunderstorms do not happen often in the area.
What Is the Weather Like in LA?
When it comes to weather in LA, most people define it as more moderate than other areas, even giving it a Mediterranean vibe. This is mostly because while it gets relatively hot in the summers, the Pacific Ocean keeps the area cooler.
With hot summers and only milder fall and spring weather, Los Angeles residents enjoy the predictability of the temperatures. While there are times that the weather may be out of character, these occurrences happen only occasionally.
For the most part, temperatures in LA tend to average anywhere from the upper 90s in the summer to the 70s in the fall and spring. Winters in Los Angeles, while cooler, do not get below 45℉ during the daytime hours.
Does Los Angeles Get Very Much Rain?
Rain showers are not a common occurrence in Los Angeles, although they do happen, especially in the winter and spring seasons. This is mostly due to weather events that are happening further into the Pacific Ocean and result in a few showers for the area.
The rainfall in the LA area does not compare to most other regions or states since it happens less often. When a weather event occurs on the ocean and brings in the rain to LA, it can vary in the amount of rainfall.
Interestingly enough, rainfall seldom happens in the summer months thus resulting in the arid heat that LA residents are so accustomed to. Los Angeles gets an average of about 15 inches of rain a year.
Does LA Have Thunderstorms?
To say that LA does not have thunderstorms would be an absolute that may or may not be true on all occasions. This is because the area has been known to have the occasional thunderstorm, although they are rare.
Thunderstorms typically require certain ingredients for them to develop and the Los Angeles area lacks many of them. This is why LA does not have thunderstorms, or at least they do not very often.
The occasional thunderstorm in Los Angeles has been due to specific weather conditions in the Pacific Ocean that bring it closer to the coast. These are usually events such as monsoons that end up bringing the right amount of ingredients needed for a thunderstorm to develop.
What are the Right Conditions for an LA Thunderstorm
For a thunderstorm to occur, there have to be certain conditions and ingredients to cause it to develop. These factors include moisture, instability, and a lifting mechanism of some kind. Any moisture in the LA air is often thought of as humidity that occurs due to the evaporation that comes from the ocean.
In LA, however, because the Pacific Ocean is cooler, there is not very much moisture, or humidity to add to the air. Instability happens when warm air is mixed with cooler air causing it to become less stable. This causes the air, mixed with the humidity to form together to create an unstable atmosphere. From this, a thunderstorm can occur.
A lifting mechanism can be thought of as the action that happens when the cooler air is mixed with the warmer air. The result is the warm air being pushed upwards while the cooler air stays below. Many of the lifting mechanisms include fronts, outflow boundaries, and many others.
Once the atmosphere has these three ingredients, it produces a thunderstorm in the area where these conditions happen.
Has LA Ever Had Thunderstorms?
The LA population is so used to the great weather, even just a little bit of rain can cause major issues. Rain in LA is enough to make traffic unbearable, so just imagine how that might look if thunderstorms were in the forecast.
While it is rare for LA to have thunderstorms, they have had a few of them that took residents and many others by surprise. In fact, since this type of weather is so rare, many people were surprised that thunderstorms were happening.
It is important to keep in mind that a thunderstorm in Los Angeles is not the same as a thunderstorm in other regions that get them often. This is because while there is instability in the air at the time, it is not to the point where it can cause major damage.
Most people are used to thunderstorms producing a good amount of hail to go along with the storm, however, Los Angeles does not get the same amount or even size. Pea-size hail is the largest reported size of hail that a thunderstorm has brought with it to the area.
Overall, while LA does get the occasional rainfall during the winter and spring months, it is a rare occurrence for them to get a thunderstorm. Visitors and LA residents should keep an umbrella handy during the so-called rainy season, but they won’t have to use it often. This is because they do not have much moisture since the Pacific Ocean is cooler. Thunderstorms that do occur are much milder than those in other regions of the country.