Winter Heat Wave Bakes the Southwest, Bringing Renewed Worries of Severe Drought

The pear trees are already blooming in Celeste Cantú’s garden. She usually sees the blossoms appear in late February, but this winter’s extreme warmth triggered the bloom a full month early. As the thermometer hit 80 degrees in her garden, she snapped a photo of the blossoms and posted it on Facebook with the question: “Do you think the three weeks of winter are over in So Ca?” A winter heat wave has settled over the Southwest and is bringing record-high temperatures to parts of Southern California, along with dry, gusty winds that have prompted warnings of fire danger.