Most people’s image of Los Angeles weather would normally contain lots of Sun, but a lot of perceptions in life can be misleading and the realities not living up to expectations! So what is the weather like in Los Angeles Really? Well, the good news is in this instance, reality does live up to the hype! Year-round the LA weather is warm and dry! There are definite seasons though and a few quirks that could reduce the enjoyment of your trip! So when is the best time to visit Los Angeles?
Los Angeles has a Sub Tropical Climate that doesn’t fall into the usual seasonal pattern of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and winter. It is classed as a “Mediterranean” climate, despite being 6000 miles away from the Mediterranean. What this means is Long Hot Summers and Warm Rainy Winters, with Spring and Autumn all but banished as transitional times between the two.
So good news in the Summer but bad in the winter right? Well not quite, as unlike most Mediterranean Climates Los Angeles has pretty dry winters. Yes, it will rain but not that often.
Los Angeles is a coastal city sitting in a basin and surrounded by mountains and desert, these conditions mean lots of areas can have their own separate Microclimates meaning parts of the City can be completely different from others this is especially true of more inland areas which can be hotter in summer and cooler in winter, and any mountainous areas obviously can be much colder in winter.
As you can see below temperatures remain pretty warm year round even in the depths of winter when most of the US is shivering under cold grey skies LA is still basking in fairly decent warm temps.
Summer: June – November
The Peak Summer months (July and August) are when Most tourists flock to Los Angeles. The Beaches are rammed, the hotels full, and the Attractions choc-full. But with good reason, the weather is fabulous. Expect peak temperature to hit the high 80’s (25-28°C) with clear blue skies and scorching sun. A real Paradise City.
While Summer is clearly the best time for a beach trip to LA other activities can be very hard work when the temps soar this high. While LA has incredible beaches and pools we find most people what more out of a trip to LA than just lounging on a beach, and the hot weather can make this a chore. Although on the whole, the city avoids the sweltering temps that can be found inland due to the pacific breeze.
June is normally a bit cooler but can suffer from the dreaded June Gloom (see Below) Crowds lesson as September breaks and the temperatures drop, but only slightly, even well into October the temps are still very warm but the crowds easing further.
So should you avoid summer? Well no, LA is probably at its best in summer, just know you won’t be alone in enjoying it.
Winter: November – May
Winter in LA is not Winter as we know it. The temperature will remain in the mid-’50s (13-17°C) during the day which is T-shirt weather and may reach a bit warmer on nicer days. Cold fronts will roll in from time to time bringing the rain with them, but these are occasional. Mostly it’s dry, bright, and pleasant weather. Although evenings can certainly get a little cooler, you will probably need a jacket, or a few layers to avoid the evening chills, likewise early morning before the sun rises high.
While the locals will look like they are freezing, for people coming from cooler climes the weather is mostly very pleasant. It’s not Hot, and not beach weather, but if you are planning on exploring the city the slightly cooler temps may be seen as a big advantage. And following rain, the infamous LA Smog can actually clear allowing beautiful views of the City that for most of the year are shrouded in smog.
Off to the east of LA, inland from the coast, are very warm and dry desert areas. From time to time, weather conditions in the desert can bring warm dry winds to California, these can result in very warm, dry weather in LA, Even in the depths of winter. These are incredibly unpredictable and pretty uncommon (but becoming less and less so due to Climate Change) so not something you can base a trip on, but don’t be too surprised if your winter trip ends up hotter than July!
The downside is the dust that is picked up from the desert and brought in with the winds, more of a nuisance to locals than tourists though. When the Santa Ana does blow, it makes for a very surreal experience in L.A. the warm winds swirl dust around the City and color the sky a peculiar red/orange. La La Land is a surreal place at the best of times but when it’s scorching hot in January, the sky is red and you are being blasted by dust, it is a whole other level of weird!
It’s very rare for it to snow down in the LA basin, but expect the peaks of the surrounding mountains to have an aesthetically pleasing coating of the white stuff. Just to remind you it really is winter elsewhere in the world!
Spring – May/June
In most parts of the World, Spring is one of our favorite times of the year but in LA it’s really not a season. Winter is over but it’s not quite Summer yet, that’s about all Spring is. The infrequent winter rain will lessen and the temps begin to rise, but it’s not a distinct season. It’s a fine time to be in the City as the weather is great but not too hot and the tourist influx hasn’t quite reached a peak yet.
Autumn – October/November
Like Spring, Autumn isn’t really a season in LA more a transition from summer to winter. There is no turning of the leaves, no bright cool crisp autumn days. The nights aren’t drawing in that much (even in the depths of winter days are long). All that happens is the temperature slowly falls off and the chance of rain increases…a bit. Oh, and there are fewer crowds.
It really never rains a lot in LA certainly not in any way to put you off, but it can and does rain, even in Summer! The winter season brings almost all the rain the year sees but even then 5-6 rainy days per month are what can be expected. These reduce as winter briefly becomes spring to almost nothing, and increase again through the short Autumn. Summer Rain is rare. Aside from the odd bit of June drizzle, it’s limited to rare thunderstorms that haven’t quite broken up when they should have and reached LA. These are short and very infrequent, however.
Overall Days are long, dry, and warm nearly year-round. The fact is L.A. really needs a lot more rain than it gets and drought and wildfires are the big problems in the State!
During the month of June, a strange weather phenomenon often occurs. That brings cloudy cool weather to the City in what would otherwise be a fantastic month. So should June be avoided? No, not really. June is still a great time to visit.
The first thing to understand about the dreaded June Gloom is that it rarely lasts all day. The cloud and fog form overnight and by lunch will have normally burned off revealing a beautiful hot summer scorcher. This Morning grey can be a bit of a relief and allow you to get things done like shopping etc. before enjoying the weather in the afternoon. It’s also quite possible you won’t experience it, or that trips in May or July may get the Gloom as it’s not limited to only June despite the name. It is rarely accompanied by any serious rain. A little Drizzle is the worst you can expect.
As you can see from our Graphs the Temps in June are getting nice and hot so there is really no reason to avoid LA in June, just be prepared for less than beautiful morning weather.
Ok, this is not really weather related but we didn’t think a whole page was needed and couldn’t really think where else to put this. But it is a topic some people are concerned about or, like us, just interested in.
LA is built upon the infamous San Andréa’s Fault line and is part of the Pacific Ring Of Fire. Meaning you are highly likely to experience an earthquake while visiting! Now this all sounds rather dramatic and scary and the City’s biggest export (Film) has certainly helped fuel concerns, but in reality, should you experience a Quake it’s likely you won’t even know about it.
There is a highly remote possibility the main fault line will let go in a big way at some point soon. But that’s in geological terms which could mean 1,000 years from now, maybe 10,000. The odds of this happening in the few days you are in LA are astronomically small. Don’t give it any more thought. You are FAR more likely to die in a road traffic accident on the way to the airport than in an earthquake during your trip to L.A.
To be honest, we have always hoped to experience a small quake while there…but never have.
More and more we are seeing weather patterns around the world being disrupted. While some want to argue about the cause (we don’t, the Science is very clear) what is of little doubt to us is that patterns are changing. We wrote these articles on the weather when stable and predictable weather was the norm, but the last few years have seen these patterns go haywire. L.A. is seeing less and less rain, huge droughts ravage the state and the dry conditions and warm winds have caused wildfires to burn out of control, and seem to get worse every year!
Likewise in other places we have visited, all around the globe, we see completely unexpected weather and hear the locals all declare “it’s not normally like this!” As far as travel goes you need to now be a little prepared that the expected weather may just not happen. Be prepared and flexible, and quite simply ready for anything!
Best time to visit
Undoubtedly the best weather occurs in July, August, and early September. So it could be argued that these are the best times to go. But really the quite extreme heat and the mass influx of tourists make us question this. Temperatures even in the depths of winter are still pleasant and the crowds are much lighter. The spring/autumn periods can still be very warm but much less crowded.
Really there isn’t a BAD time to visit the City. If you plan on a big beach holiday then it’s got to be summer but if like most, you plan on exploring the city, any time of the year will result in a fantastic trip!
Have Your Say
What time of year are you planning on visiting? Have you been in Summer, Winter or any other time? Did you experience any unexpected weather phenomenon? Please just leave us a comment with any of your questions or to share your experiences. We would love to hear from you!