Winter heat wave sets all-time February record highs in California cities

Heat more typical of the spring or summer likely had some California residents double- or even triple-checking their calendars last week as Mother Nature dished out record-breaking warmth across the state.

The rare mid-winter heat wave set several all-time records in the Bay Area and caused a heat advisory to be issued in the month of February around the Los Angeles area for the first time since 2006 -- just as the region welcomed football fans across the country arriving for Super Bowl 56.

While temperatures across the region have been above normal since the beginning of the month, the temperatures really started to peak above normal during the first weekend of February. By Tuesday, Feb. 8, afternoon highs in cities like Sacramento and San Francisco were both registering in the lower 70s, about 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for mid-February.

The hottest day ended up being on Thursday, Feb. 10, when more than 10 cities either tied or broke daily record high temperatures. This includes cities such as Santa Ana, located near Anaheim, that reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the second consecutive day on Thursday, topping out more than 20 degrees above normal for mid-February.

Farther north, an astounding feat was reached by two central California locations, Salinas and San Francisco. Not only did both cities hit new daily record high temperatures Thursday, but it also became the warmest day ever recorded in those cities during February.

"The 78 F that San Francisco hit on Thursday afternoon is also an all-time record [for the city] for meteorological winter," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Meteorological winter for the Northern Hemisphere, which follows what are statistically the coldest three months, runs from Dec.1 to the end of February.

Prior to Thursday's high temperature, San Francisco's previous meteorological winter temperature record of 77 stood for 36 years.

Salinas fell 5 degrees short of the city's all-time meteorological winter record high of 92 F, last reached on Dec. 3, 1958.

The temperature record in San Francisco was set at San Francisco International Airport, not downtown San Francisco.

The heat continued to shatter records on Friday as Palm Springs saw temperatures reach 93 degrees, breaking the daily high of 91 set back in 1971. Anaheim, Borrego, Santa Ana and San Jacinto also broke their daily high records Friday with temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s.

Southern California cities weren't the only ones to claim daily record highs on Friday. Central California locations such as Redding, Red Bluff, Stockton and Modesto were among other cities that secured spots on the record-breaking list.

The unseasonable weather continued through the weekend throughout the state. San Diego set a daily record high temperature of 85 degrees on Wednesday, Feb. 9, surpassing the old daily record of 83 F set in 2016. The city had high a temperature of 91 F on Saturday, well above the average of 66 F for this time of year, as well as smashing the 2015 record of 86 F.

A few more locations across California broke records on Saturday, including Chula Vista, with a high of 93 F, surpassing 2015's previous record of 87 F. Escondido also reached 90 F, breaking the record of 89 F, which was set in 1971.

Temperatures at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, peaked at 85 F on Sunday afternoon for the Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals but fell to 81 by kickoff.


The combination of warm, dry conditions, as well as gusty winds, helped to rapidly spread wildfires across the state on Thursday, including in Laguna Beach and Whittier.

AccuWeather's Bill Wadell reported on Thursday evening that flames from the Sycamore Fire swept into a neighborhood in Whittier, California, located in Los Angeles County, and destroyed two homes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Emerald Fire, which spread across Laguna Beach on Thursday, burned approximately 150 acres and forced evacuations. This fire remained active as of Friday evening and was only 20 percent contained. By Saturday night, the fire was at 90% containment and approximately 154 acres were impacted.

There is the potential for some rain in Southern California by the middle of the week to assist firefighting efforts.

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