Showers are expected again today, and forecasters can't make sense of Southern California's crazy weather.
It was supposed to be sunny and dry by this point in the season.
"This season has been so messed up," said Curtis Brack of WeatherData. "We have rain rolling in up in Central California and it's moving from the east to the west. Down in Southern California, it's coming in from the west and moving east."
Although light rain is due to return today, the mountains and coastal areas should be dry by nightfall, Brack said. Temperatures will be in the high 60s today, with gradual warming through the week to the mid- to upper 70s by Friday, he said.
"The last thing for California from this storm is a few showers over the Sierra on Wednesday and afternoon thunderstorms way out over the deserts," he said.
On Monday, light rain was recorded in Orange County before bright sunshine and blue sky poked through the overcast. The El Toro area recorded a measurable rainfall of only .02 inch, much less than cities farther north such as Santa Barbara, which recorded .59 inch.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Two weeks ago, the experts said Southlanders had seen the last of the rainfall for this season.
A "semi-permanent" high pressure was going to settle in, allowing storms to move inland over the Rockies and Plains. But, Brack said, "that hasn't developed yet."
For the most part, crops in Orange County were unaffected by the latest rain, although the recent series of storms destroyed much of the area's crop of lettuce, making it as expensive as $2 a head in local markets, said Cathy Nakase, Orange County Farm Bureau manager.
"Usually at this time of year," Nakase said, "we have a lot of sunshine. But unfortunately we've had unusually cold nights and rain, not the kind of weather we are used to in the month of May."
Lettuce needs plenty of warm weather and nutrition, and it must grow fairly quickly.
Without those ingredients, the lettuce is going to bolt and seed--that is, the leaves will stop growing and become bitter, said John Ellis, Orange County deputy agriculture commissioner.
Last year, the county produced a relatively small lettuce crop of about 4,294 tons that represented a value of $1.1 million in 1994, said Ellis.
This has been a banner year for rainfall, with 24.43 inches in Santa Ana, compared with 12.42 for a normal year.
Another phenomenon has occurred off the coast with colder-than-normal water, according to lifeguards.
Capt. Steve Seim of Huntington Beach Marine Safety Department said Newport Beach recorded a water temperature of 52 degrees at a time when Huntington Beach got down to 55 degrees.
"Even for wintertime, that's cold," Seim said, "but this is supposed to be spring. With the El Nino, it was staying above 60 degrees consistently two years ago and we were getting used to that. But our lifeguards who are training in the cold water are getting blue."
Clinton Winant, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Center for Coastal Studies, said the colder water is a result of upwelling, when high winds from recent storms blew away surface water, allowing for deeper, colder water to come up, and also of a "mixing" of different water temperatures.
"A lot of it is due to upwelling, but more is due to mixing," Winant said. "What will happen with a series of storms is the upper level of the water column mixes with much colder water from deeper depths, resulting in colder temperatures at the top."