Santa Monica is a town famous for its sunny beaches and temperate climate, so why is the sky so grey and full of gloom in the spring time?
The weather in Santa Monica during the spring is typically mild or moderate with average high temperatures ranging from 66°F to 70°F, and average low temperatures ranging from 52°F to 59°F. The humidity in Southern California is relatively low, and the wind speeds are typically light. On average, there are 10 days of spring rain in Santa Monica, but the rain is usually light and brief, rarely lasting for a full day or multiple days straight.
However, when visiting Santa Monica in May or June, you may find the beaches to be socked in with fog or low-lying clouds and there are some days when you may not see the sun at all! These seasonal foggy conditions are common in Santa Monica and other Los Angeles beach cities and is called “the marine layer”, a cool, low-lying layer of air that forms over the ocean caused by the cooling effect of the water on the slightly warmer air above it. The marine layer is typically found near the coast, but it can extend inland for several miles. The thickness of the marine layer can vary, but it is typically no more than a few hundred feet thick.
Due to the predictable presence of these low clouds in the spring, most Angelenos refer to these foggy weather conditions as “May Gray” or “June Gloom”. Both terms refer to these low-lying clouds that can hang around for days, or roll in unexpectedly in the late afternoon. The marine layer can have a significant impact on the weather. It can cause fog and low clouds, and it can also reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. This can lead to cooler temperatures and higher humidity. The marine layer can also affect the wind patterns.
Although these coastal fog banks can linger all day, the marine layer is most common in the morning and evening when the temperature difference between the land and the water is greatest. The marine layer can be broken up, or “burn off” by the sun and warming mid-day temperatures. May Gray and June Gloom are both a common occurrence in California, and it can last for several days or even weeks. These conditions are hyper-localized to coastal areas. Although there may be foggy, dreary clouds in Hollywood or the Valleys in the early morning, these damp clouds dissipate almost as soon as the sun rises. However, by the beaches where the Pacific Ocean serves as a huge reservoir of cooler temperatures, these low-lying foggy conditions can linger throughout the day.
However, by July, the water temperatures rise sufficiently enough to discourage the formation of the marine layer overnight, so blue skies and sunny days are abundant by the beach for the remainder of the summer in Southern California.
When Planning your trip to Los Angeles, remember that although there’s plenty of sun, and rain is unlikely, it’s best to plan for the unexpected. Here’s a few tips for you when packing for a trip to Los Angeles:
- Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing as the temperature changes. Keeping a hoodie or light jacket in your day bag is a must.
- During the spring and summer, its is unlikely you will need an umbrella or raincoat. If any small showers arise, you can usually duck into a restaurant or shop while the system passes.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Always!
- If you are planning to be at the beach or planning other outdoor activities, be sure to apply sunscreen and reapply it often, especially after going into the water.
- Before leaving for the pier, be sure to check out the live weather conditions on our webcams.
June Gloom and May Gray are a regular occurrence that are part of life in Southern California. By following a few planning tips, you can still enjoy the outdoors during your visit to Los Angeles. May Gray and June Gloom are two terms used to describe the overcast skies and cool temperatures that are often present in the months of May and June in Southern California. The two terms are often used interchangeably. A dense marine layer can occur any time of year, but are more common in the spring when ambient air temperatures are rising, but the waters of the Pacific are still relatively cool.
The marine layer is a natural phenomenon that occurs in coastal areas. It is caused by the cooling effect of the water on the air above it. The marine layer is typically found near the coast, and it can extend inland for several miles. In Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains typically restrict the marine layer to the LA Basin stretching from the beaches to Hollywood and East Los Angeles. The thickness of the marine layer can vary, but it is typically no more than a few hundred feet thick.
Why is it always foggy in Santa Monica?
Foggy conditions and low clouds are common along the west coast, but usually only occur in the early morning or overnight. However, when the seasons change and the air temps are warmer than the relatively cool ocean water temps, a marine layer will develop. This low-lying cloud layer usually dissipates by late morning, but during the spring months of May and June, the marine layer can linger for days at a time. For most other months, Santa Monica skies are bright and clear.
What is the weather like in Santa Monica?
The weather in Santa Monica is typically mild and sunny year-round. The average temperature ranges from 60°F in the winter to 75°F in the summer. There is very little rainfall, with an average of only 15 inches per year. The humidity is also low, which makes it a very comfortable place to visit and enjoy outdoor activities like the beach.
- Winter (December-February): The average temperature in Santa Monica during the winter is 60°F. There is very little rainfall, with an average of only 3 inches per month. The humidity is also low, which makes it a very comfortable place to visit.
- Spring (March-May): The weather in Santa Monica is beautiful during the spring. The average temperature ranges from 65°F to 75°F. There is still very little rainfall, with an average of only 4 inches per month.
- Summer (June-August): The summer is the warmest time of year in Santa Monica. The average temperature ranges from 75°F to 85°F. There is still very little rainfall, with an average of only 2 inches per month.
- Fall (September-November): The fall is another beautiful time of year in Santa Monica. The average temperature ranges from 70°F to 75°F. There is still very little rainfall, with an average of only 3 inches per month.
Overall, the weather in Santa Monica is very mild and sunny year-round reflecting beautiful weather and sunny conditions that make Southern California is famous.
What time of year is the weather best in Santa Monica for a vacation?
Timing your visit to Santa Monica will depend on your personal travel preferences During the fall (September-November) or spring (March-May), the weather is warm and sunny conditions will be present most days or in the afternoons if a marine layer is present. Average temperatures these times of year are around. There is also very little rainfall, making it a great time to enjoy the beach, the boardwalk, and all that Santa Monica has to offer.
The summer (June-August) is also a popular time to visit Santa Monica. Since schools are out, more local visitors will also be using the beach and pier, so the streets in and out of Santa Monica can get congested, especially later in the day. If you do decide to visit during the summer, plan to start your day early to beat the traffic and book your experiences and accommodations in advance.
The winter (December-February) is the least busy time to visit Santa Monica, as the weather can be a bit chilly and most of Los Angeles’ rainfall occurs during these months. However, if you have flexible travel plans, this can be a great time to book your experiences as there will be shorter wait times and competition for service.
Feature image courtesy of @daniel_flores333