With its sunny skies and mild climate, frigid temperatures are rare in Los Angeles. But even sunny southern California occasionally sees cold snaps dipping to record lows.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The coldest temperature ever officially recorded in downtown Los Angeles is 28°F (-2°C), on January 4, 1949.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore Los Angeles’s typical climate patterns, discuss factors that lead to the city’s periodic cold spells, look at the record low temperature and other extreme cold snaps, and provide tips on handling an LA cold wave.

Los Angeles’s Typical Warm Climate

When one thinks of Los Angeles, sunny skies and warm temperatures often come to mind. Known for its Mediterranean climate, the city is famous for its year-round pleasant weather. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing.

However, there have been a few occasions when Los Angeles experienced an extreme cold spell, resulting in the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city.

Average Winter Lows

Despite its reputation for warmth, Los Angeles does experience cooler temperatures during the winter months. On average, winter lows in the city range from the mid-40s to low 50s Fahrenheit (7-10 degrees Celsius).

These temperatures are considerably milder compared to other parts of the country experiencing freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall during the winter season.

Influence of the Marine Layer

Los Angeles’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean plays a significant role in its climate. The marine layer, a phenomenon where cool, moist air from the ocean moves inland, often keeps temperatures moderate and prevents extreme heat or cold.

The marine layer acts as a natural air conditioning system, bringing relief from the scorching summer heat and preventing temperatures from dropping too low during the winter.

However, there have been exceptions to this typical climate pattern. In rare instances, a combination of atmospheric conditions can lead to a drastic drop in temperatures, resulting in unusually cold weather for the region.

Did you know? Los Angeles is home to the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city’s history.

On January 4, 1949, a cold wave swept through Southern California, bringing freezing temperatures to Los Angeles. The mercury plummeted to a bone-chilling 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius), making it the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city.

This rare occurrence left residents scrambling for coats and hats, unaccustomed to such frigid conditions.

While this record-breaking cold spell stands out in Los Angeles’s history, it is important to note that it was an exceptional event. The city’s warm climate remains the norm, with mild winters and pleasant temperatures throughout the year.

For more information on Los Angeles’s climate and weather patterns, you can visit the official website of the National Weather Service – Los Angeles.

What Causes Cold Snaps

Cold snaps are sudden drops in temperature that can bring freezing conditions and inclement weather. They can occur in various regions around the world, including Los Angeles. Understanding the factors that contribute to these cold snaps can help us better prepare for their effects.

Storms from the north

One of the main causes of cold snaps in Los Angeles is the influence of storms coming from the north. When low-pressure systems move down from Alaska and Canada, they can bring frigid air masses with them.

These cold air masses collide with the warmer air over Los Angeles, leading to a sudden drop in temperature.

During these storm systems, cold fronts develop, which are boundaries between the advancing cold air and the warmer air ahead of it. As the cold front passes through an area, it can bring gusty winds, rain, and even snow.

These weather conditions contribute to the overall cold snap experienced in Los Angeles.

Santa Ana wind patterns

Another factor that can contribute to cold snaps in Los Angeles is the Santa Ana wind patterns. Normally, the Santa Ana winds are warm and dry, originating from the high desert areas to the east of Los Angeles.

However, in certain situations, these winds can shift and bring cold air from the interior of the continent.

When the Santa Ana winds blow from the northeast, they push the cold air down towards the city, causing a decrease in temperature. These cold Santa Ana events can result in frosty conditions and even light snowfall in some parts of Los Angeles.

It is important to note that while cold snaps may occur in Los Angeles, they are relatively rare compared to other regions. The city’s mild climate is generally characterized by warm temperatures and sunny days.

However, when cold snaps do occur, they can have a significant impact on daily life and require individuals to take necessary precautions to stay safe and warm.

The Coldest Temperature on Record

Los Angeles, known for its warm and sunny weather, rarely experiences freezing temperatures. However, on January 4, 1949, the city recorded its coldest temperature ever at a bone-chilling 28°F. This unexpected drop in temperature left residents reaching for their heavy coats and scarves, unaccustomed to such frigid conditions.

28°F on January 4, 1949

On that fateful day in 1949, a cold front from the north swept through Southern California, bringing icy winds and plummeting temperatures. Many residents woke up to frozen pipes and frost-covered lawns, a sight that is rare in the typically mild climate of Los Angeles.

Schools were closed, and local authorities urged people to stay indoors to avoid the bitter cold.

The 28°F temperature recorded in Los Angeles on January 4th, 1949, broke the previous record of 30°F set in 1913. It stands as a testament to the unpredictability of weather patterns and a reminder that even in regions known for warmth, winter can still pack a chilly punch.

Other notable record cold temperatures

While the coldest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles remains 28°F, there have been other instances of unusually cold weather in the city’s history. In 1932, the city experienced a cold snap that brought temperatures down to a freezing 32°F.

Similarly, in 1972, a rare cold spell resulted in a low of 33°F.

It’s important to note that these cold temperatures, while significant for Los Angeles, may seem mild compared to other regions that regularly experience freezing temperatures. However, for the residents of a city accustomed to year-round sunshine, even a slight drop in temperature can feel like a deep freeze.

For more information on Los Angeles weather records, you can visit the Weather Channel or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) websites.

Coldest Neighborhoods

When it comes to the coldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, there is a stark difference between downtown areas and the coastal and valley regions. While downtown Los Angeles tends to have milder temperatures due to the urban heat island effect, the coastal and valley areas experience cooler temperatures.

Downtown vs. coastal and valley areas

In downtown Los Angeles, the buildings and concrete can trap heat, leading to slightly higher temperatures compared to the surrounding areas. However, when it comes to the coldest neighborhoods, the coastal and valley regions take the lead.

The coastal areas, such as Malibu and Santa Monica, benefit from the cool breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean. This creates a refreshing and mild climate in these neighborhoods, making them ideal for those seeking relief from the heat.

On the other hand, the valley areas, such as San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley, experience colder temperatures compared to downtown Los Angeles. These neighborhoods are more inland and farther away from the moderating influence of the ocean.

As a result, they tend to have cooler winters and hotter summers.

Elevation impacts

Another factor that contributes to the coldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles is elevation. Higher elevation areas tend to have lower temperatures due to the decrease in atmospheric pressure and the presence of cooler air.

The neighborhoods located in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, such as Mount Washington and Laurel Canyon, experience colder temperatures compared to the rest of the city.

It’s important to note that while these neighborhoods may be considered the coldest in Los Angeles, the temperature variations within the city are relatively mild compared to other parts of the country. Los Angeles is known for its generally pleasant and mild climate throughout the year.

If you want to learn more about the climate and temperature variations in Los Angeles, you can visit the Weather.com website for up-to-date information and forecasts.

Tips For Dealing With LA Cold Spells

Los Angeles is known for its warm and sunny weather, but occasionally, the city experiences cold spells that can catch residents off guard. Here are some tips to help you stay prepared and comfortable during those chilly days.

Protecting plants

During cold spells, it’s important to protect your outdoor plants from freezing temperatures. One effective way to do this is by covering them with a sheet or tarp. This will help to insulate the plants and prevent frost damage.

Additionally, you can move potted plants indoors or into a garage or shed to provide them with extra protection.

For more information on protecting your plants during cold weather, you can visit the Gardening Know How website.

Dressing appropriately

When the temperature drops in LA, it’s important to dress warmly to stay comfortable. Layering is key, as it allows you to adjust your clothing to your level of activity and the changing weather conditions.

Start with a base layer made of moisture-wicking material to keep you dry, add a insulating layer like a sweater or fleece, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer.

Don’t forget to protect your extremities! Wearing a hat, gloves, and warm socks will help to prevent heat loss from your head, hands, and feet. It’s also a good idea to keep a spare blanket or jacket in your car in case you get stranded or need extra warmth.

Avoiding frozen pipes

When temperatures drop below freezing, it’s important to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and potentially bursting. One way to do this is by allowing a slow drip of water to flow from faucets connected to vulnerable pipes. This can help to relieve pressure and prevent freezing.

Insulating your pipes is another effective way to protect them from freezing. You can use pipe insulation sleeves or wrap them with heat tape. Additionally, make sure to keep the cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.

Tip Effectiveness
Allowing a slow drip of water 👍👍👍
Insulating pipes 👍👍
Keeping cabinet doors open 👍

For more information on how to prevent frozen pipes, you can visit the Family Handyman website.

By following these tips, you can protect your plants, dress appropriately, and avoid frozen pipes during cold spells in Los Angeles. Stay warm and stay safe!


Though rare, Los Angeles occasionally sees temperatures dip below freezing due to cold fronts and Santa Ana winds. By understanding climate patterns and record lows, Angelenos can take steps to comfortably withstand the city’s coolest weather.

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