Weather tracker: why is it so cold in California at the moment? | California

Over recent months there has been a recurring theme in weather news about how wet and unsettled western parts of the US have been, particularly in the normally sunny state of California.

This has been caused by frequent atmospheric rivers funnelling into western North America, and a recent analysis by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that over the course of this water year (1 October 2022 to 30 September 2023) 31 atmospheric river events have affected the west coast so far.

This constant barrage of precipitation has meant that in March in particular there have been precipitation anomalies far above normal – two to three times above the norm in some parts.

It has also been exceptionally cold, with average temperatures at least 2-3C below normal for this time of year, and dipping to more than 5C below normal in many places. As a result, in mountainous regions precipitation has been falling mostly as snow, often very heavy and frequent, bringing accumulations great enough to bury an entire ski lodge in Rimforest, California.

Mammoth Mountain ski resort has declared this the snowiest season on record, reporting totals of 17.6 metres at its main lodge and a staggering 22.1 metres at the summit. Cold and wet conditions are expected to linger through next week and beyond.

Meanwhile, Spain has been shaking off the spring feeling as many weather stations across the country reported temperatures above 30C on Wednesday. The heat continued the next day, with Murcia reaching 32.7C, close to the region’s March record of 33.3C.

This month has been warmer than average overall and temperatures in Spain have been 1-2C above normal in most areas. The heat has been building from the south, where northern Africa has been baking. In Agadir, Morocco, temperatures hit 39.8C on Wednesday, beating the previous March record of 39.0C set in 2005.

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This heatwave will subside at the weekend as temperatures return closer to normal but still above average.

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