Coachella Valley weather: With mountain rain in forecast, here's what to know

In a city that sees an average 354 days of sunny skies annually, forecasters with the National Weather Service in San Diego called high clouds spotted across Palm Springs Wednesday a welcome sight for the desert region.

The city averages 5.23 inches of rain a year, forecasters said, while areas just west of the mountains see on the order of 10 to 15 inches annually.

But don't get too excited, Casey Oswart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego, told The Desert Sun. High clouds don't necessarily mean rain, she said. It could be a different story in the surrounding mountains this weekend, when there is a chance of thunderstorms.

"These high clouds in this scenario are mostly non impactful and simply make for good views," Oswant said Wednesday.

Cooler-than-usual temperature expected to continue this week

As of 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the temperature at the Palm Springs International Airport read 81 degrees, Oswant said. A high of 88 was expected later in the day followed by a low of 65 during evening hours.

With nights recently dropping into the 60s and days mostly failing to crack triple digits, forecasters said the mild conditions may stick around a little longer. The Southern California region is in the midst of another below-average stretch that is leaving residents wondering what happened to summer.

Why are there high clouds in Palm Springs?

A low-pressures system sitting over Southern California on Wednesday is responsible for bringing in all the high clouds, Oswant said.

"That means an increase of moisture in the area, but because they are so high, most of it is all way up in the atmosphere, so again, it's just nice to look at."

The NWS in San Diego said cooler conditions are expected to stick around the greater Palm Springs area this week. Meanwhile,  low pressures system sitting over Southern California on Wednesday was responsible for bringing in high clouds, making for "good views."

Is it going to rain?

While there was trace rain recorded in the mountains above the Coachella Valley early Wednesday, no rain is expected in Palm Springs area over the next 10 days, Oswant said, but thunderstorms could form Sunday in surrounding mountain areas.

"They are expected to stay in the mountains and not move east into the Coachella Valley," she said.

What is the Air Quality Index in the valley?

No air quality alerts had been issued as of late Wednesday morning, Oswant said.

"Coachella Valley's air is good with an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 42," she said.

Could Canada's wildfires affect SoCal air quality?

While wildfires in Canada are sending heavy smoke across much of the U.S., Oswant said Southern California appears to be safe from smoke and unhealthy quality levels. On Tuesday there were some 400 wildfires burning across the country, 238 deemed out-of-control.

While forest fires are a natural part of the ecosystem of Canada's forests, the size and number of fires this year is decidedly abnormal. Most of the country is expected to be under high to extreme risk for much of the wildfire season, which stretches from May to September.

"I think we're pretty much going to avoid all the smoke from that now. It will stay more in the middle and eastern parts of the country," she said.

Palm Springs three-day NWS forecast:

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 88. Mostly clear during the evening hours with a low of 65.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 93 i in the morning. The evening calls for mostly clear skies, with a low of 69.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 95 in the afternoon. Expect partly cloudy skies at night with a low of 70.

Contributing: Elizabeth Weise and Doyle Rice with USA TODAY.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Palm Springs area weather: Mountain rain, cooler temps in forecast