Why is it already so hot in Sacramento, and what’s ahead for Northern California summer?

·2 min read

Although the summer season hasn’t started yet, blistering temperatures are already striking Sacramento, bringing a dry heat to the region — but there’s no need to sound the alarm.

After a small bout of rainfall and “unseasonably cool” temperatures, Sacramento was hit with a high of 92 on Saturday. The heat has stayed throughout this week, nearing 100 degrees Wednesday afternoon and is forecast to get to the upper 90s again this weekend.

But this isn’t unusual for May.

“If you look at the record highs, they actually get in the low hundreds for many days from mid to late May,” said Eric Kurth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

On May 31, 2021, Sacramento Executive Airport experienced 105 degree weather, breaking the all time record of 103 for the same day in 2001, while downtown Sacramento faced 106 and the Redding area saw 109.

Why is it so hot?

It’s hot because we’re transitioning into an early summer pattern where high pressure ridges develop, Kurth said.

High pressure system, like the one we are currently experiencing from the Eastern Pacific, tends to brings in warm, dry weather, he said.

In this pattern, there’s a low pressure system occurring in Baja California, he said. And unlike the high pressure system, this low pressure typically brings in cool air from the ocean.

This cooler weather can be seen in Southern California, where temperatures are forecast in the 60s to high 70s.

Kurth added that the Sacramento region is getting northerly down sloping winds, which are bringing hot and arid weather. Northern California is also facing dry conditions, especially after a dry period from the recent La Nina winter and low rainfall levels.

“If the environment is dry, it’ll tend to be easier for it to heat up each day,” Kurth said, citing the lack of moisture and plants to absorb heat, which would have moderated temperatures.

What’s the summer going to look like in Northern California?

There’s no doubt that this summer will be hot.

According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Predication Center, from June to August, temperatures across most of the country have some level of probability of getting above normal.

Northern California has a 33% to 50% chance of getting above normal temperatures, with the probability increasing farther inland.

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California Utility Team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email utilityteam@sacbee.com.

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