Radar screenshot over Southern California at 8 a.m. local time. (NWS)

A rare September rainstorm, brought about by the remnant swirl of one time Hurricane Linda, has soaked Los Angeles this morning with nearly two inches of rain. It is the heaviest rain event in the city this year by a large margin and the heaviest September rain event in more than 30 years.

Through 10 a.m. local time, 1.79 inches of rain had fallen at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) easily besting the previous wettest day this year of 0.69 inches from January 10.

Today’s rainfall alone puts this month in 3rd place among the wettest Septembers on record at both LAX and downtown Los Angeles, where an astonishing 2.39 inches of rain has fallen. That’s the wettest day in downtown LA in any month since March 20, 2011 (2.42 inches) according to The Weather Channel’s Jonathan Erdman.

Wettest Septembers on record prior to 2015 at Los Angeles International Airport
Wettest Septembers on record prior to 2015 at Los Angeles International Airport

Other sections of Southern California have also been deluged. Santa Monica has picked up 1.75 inches and Alhambra 1.82 inches according to the LA Times (through 7:30 a.m. local time). A flood advisory spanned all of Los Angeles County.

“The rain will cause ponding of water on area roadways through the morning commute with local flooding of low lying areas and intersections,” the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif. cautioned. “Heavy downpours may cause minor mud and debris in and around recent burn areas.”

Firefighters have conducted two rescues due to people stranded by floodwaters the LA Times reports.

Substantial rain in mid-September is highly unusual in the Southern California. Consider the previous record rainfall for September 15 at LAX was a mere 0.01 inches in 1982.  The monthly average rainfall is just 0.24 inches.

LAX has reported moderate to heavy rain at the top of the hour for seven consecutive hours since 3 a.m. local time as a solid swath of precipitation pushed onshore.


Hourly weather observations at Los Angeles International Airport (NWS)

Additional rains are possible through the morning before Linda’s remnants shift eastward.

Linda formed on Sept. 6 as a tropical storm and peaked as a Category 3 hurricane last week. It rapidly weakened late last week but onshore steering currents helped sweep some of its lingering moisture into the drought-plagued state.

The soaking in Southern California is certainly welcome but represents only a small dent in the drought. Southern California is missing the equivalent of two year’s worth of rain according to Climate.gov. “This deficit isn’t so much a hole as a giant chasm,” writes Climate.gov blogger Tom DiLiberto.

But the rains so far this summer represent should be considered a bonus since they are typically so hard to come by prior to late fall and winter. Today’s rainfall follows the wettest July on record in Los Angeles, in which it picked up 0.38 inches from a mid-month rainstorm.

[All that record-breaking July rain in California still isn’t enough to dent the drought]

The summer rains may offer a preview of the coming wet season which has a good chance to produce substantial precipitation in Southern California due to the strong El Nino event underway. In fact, El Nino could be said to have an assist in today’s rainfall as it tends to elevate hurricane activity in the eastern tropical Pacific, where Linda formed.

In a climate rarity, Los Angeles has received more rain this month than Washington, D.C. (0.27 inches), Atlanta (1.42 inches) and Boston (1.43 inches).