Climate Change in Coachella Valley, CA

Here’s a current look at Coachella Valley’s climate situation and local energy transition. This is for everyone in the Coachella Valley.

1.0 Coachella’s Past, Present & Future Climate

2.0 How climate change is impacting Coachella Valley

3.0 Coachella Valley Cities & Climate Leadership

0.0 Climate Organizations in Coachella Valley

0.0 Progress in Coachella Valley’s Energy Transition

0.0 Coachella Valley Politicians on the Climate

1.0 Coachella Valley’s Past, Present & Future Climate

Three attributes of Coachella Valley's climate that make it a Hot Desert climate. Graphic.

What is Coachella’s climate changing from?

Coachella Valley’s climate is currently classified as “Hot Desert.” The Hot Desert climate has temps averaging up to 106˚or more during Summers that are often rainless. Winters are mild and sometimes drizzly. The Coachella Valley (Greater Palm Springs) is in drought much of the time. The region has had this Hot Desert climate for at least 2,700,000 (2.7 million) years.

Current: Q4 2022


These are three attributes of Coachella Valley's coming Torrid climate. Graphic.

What’s the Coachella Valley’s climate changing to?

“Torrid” is’s very unofficial way to convey the essence of Coachella’s emerging climate. Coachella Valley’s emerging new climate is trending toward something that could be described as “Torrid,” which is French for “scorched with the heat of the sun.” A Torrid climate will feature extremely hot, long, Summers and warm Winters. August and September temps will climb into the mid 120˚s.

As the next decades arrive, Coachellans will experience warmer and warmer wintertime temps. Coachella’s climate will be hyper-arid and virtually rainless. Many consecutive years and even decades will pass without rainfall. The impacts will be difficult.

As new atmospheric patterns accelerate, especially during the 2040s and 2050s, scientists will be able to assign an official name to Coachella Valley’s emerging climate type. Scientists expect the characteristics of this new climate to be unlike any that currently exist on Earth.

Current: Q4 2022

State Govt Report: (Emerging climate characteristics from) Inland Desert Region. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment (2018)  Hall, Alex; Berg, Neil; Reich, Katharine. (University of California, Los Angeles)  Publication number: SUM-CCCA4-2018-007



Climate Change Projections for the Coachella Valley

The usual weather (the climate) of the Coachella Valley has been changing over the past several decades, and that change has started to accelerate. Here’s what people in Palm Springs, Indio, and other Coachella Valley cities can expect their climate to be like in the coming years.

graphic showing how hot it will get in the Coachella Valley because of the changing climate

How hot will it get in Coachella?

Highest Temp Recorded: 121˚ Palm Springs Intl Airport had the highest temp in Coachella Valley’s history, in August 2019.

Highest Temp Projected: 124˚ is the highest temp projected thru this century for Coachella Valley, starting in the 2040s. Occasional spikes up to 130˚ could happen in lower-lying areas like Thermal, a community of 2,800 people at Coachella Valley’s far east end.

This shows Coachella's normal summertime high temperatures, which used to range between 91 and 108 degrees. Graphic.

Normal Temps for comparison: 108˚ was Palm Springs’ usual highest temp during August in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Scientists often use these and earlier decades as a baseline for measuring climate change over time.

Warmest Year on Record: In 2018, Coachella Valley had its warmest year on record, so far. 2016 was the Valley’s second warmest year.

Official Records: National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Data for Palm Springs International Airport, 1981 – 2010 averages.   

Current: Q4 2022

Note: All temperature readings in the U.S. are shown in Fahrenheit F˚ degrees. Also Note: Daily High Temps (aka Daytime High Temps) are the highest temp reached on a given day, usually occurring in the late afternoon. 

This shows how Coachella Valley's summertime is getting much longer and much hotter as the decades go by. Extremely hot days are coming earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Graphic.

Coachella Valley’s climate is trending toward much longer, much hotter Summertimes.

The spring-summer-fall “heat season” (days with temps over 105˚) in Coachella Valley used to be a month long in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Now, that time is gradually lengthening so that by the 2070s, 80s and 90s the heat season will linger on for up to several months. Atmospheric scientists are calling this expanding new heat season a “Super Summer.”

As time goes on, heatwaves will not be a fluke. Most Summers, people in Coachella Valley will experience waves of heatwaves. Uncomfortably hot days will arrive earlier in the Springtime and persist further and further into the Fall. Late-Summer / early Fall heatwaves merge together for four months of extreme heat.  ​

Current: Q4 2022

Cal-Adapt. (2018). [Number of Extreme Heat Days for Coachella RCP 8.5 & RCP 4.5, Global Climate Models HadGEM2-ES, CNRM-CM5, CanESM2, MIROC5]. Cal-Adapt website developed by University of California at Berkeley’s Geospatial Innovation Facility under contract with the California Energy Commission. Retrieved [15 Aug 2021], from

Livneh et al, (2015) A spatially comprehensive, hydrometeorological data set for Mexico, the U.S., and Southern Canada 1950–2013. Scientific Data, 2(1). doi:10.1038/sdata.2015.42

Pierce, D. W., J. F. Kalansky, and D. R. Cayan, (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) 2018. Climate, Drought, and Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the Fourth California Climate Assessment. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, California Energy Commission. Publication Number: CNRA-CEC-2018-006. 

Inland Deserts Summary Report. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment (2018)  Hall, Alex; Berg, Neil; Reich, Katharine. (University of California, Los Angeles)  Publication number: SUM-CCCA4-2018-007

This shows Coachella Valley's high temperatures steadily rising as the decades go by. Graphic.

Extremely hot days in Coachella are happening more and more often.

More and more often there will be days with a temp above 113˚ in Coachella Valley over the coming decades. By the 2050s, under the Growing Pace / Business-as Usual carbon emissions scenario, Palm Springs’ number of days with temps over 113˚ will more than quintuple (multiply times five) from those of the 1990s – from 5 days to 27 days – of oppressive roastyness. ​

Current: Q4 2022

Cal-Adapt. (2018). [Number of Extreme Heat Days for Coachella RCP 8.5 & RCP 4.5, Global Climate Models HadGEM2-ES, CNRM-CM5, CanESM2, MIROC5]. Cal-Adapt website developed by University of California at Berkeley’s Geospatial Innovation Facility under contract with the California Energy Commission. Retrieved [15 Aug 2021], from

Livneh et al, (2015) A spatially comprehensive, hydrometeorological data set for Mexico, the U.S., and Southern Canada 1950–2013. Scientific Data, 2(1). doi:10.1038/sdata.2015.42

Pierce, D. W., J. F. Kalansky, and D. R. Cayan, (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) 2018. Climate, Drought, and Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the Fourth California Climate Assessment. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, California Energy Commission. Publication Number: CNRA-CEC-2018-006.

2. Climate Impacts on the Cities of Coachella Valley

music festival fairground with people walking and talking, with a sunset and palm trees and a Ferris wheel

Coachella’s tourism will have to adjust

Tourism in the Coachella Valley is a $6,400,000,000 (6.4 billion) a year local economic engine, employing more than 50,000 people. Visitors from everywhere come to the area’s festivals, hot springs, resorts, and golf courses for the mild weather, but the weather is becoming less and less mild. Heat records are regularly broken in Palm Springs. The golf courses get quiet when its 110˚ out. Tourism drops off when its too hot outside.

The Coachella Music Festival happens each year in April when temps are still comfortable. The Coachella Music Festival happens in April, and Aprils in Coachella will be getting warmer. But the always-stay-indoors extreme heat (110˚s – 120˚s) will come in June, July, August, and September. Over time, the new “Super Summer” will push further and further into the Spring and Fall, eating into Coachella tourism’s shoulder-season.

Current: Q4 2022

Local newspaper:

Aerial view of the green-blue Salton Sea, which looks like a big pond in the vast desert, not like an actual sea. Photo.

Is there enough water for Coachella Valley’s growing population?

The Salton Sea currently supports the $13 billion agriculture industry in Coachella’s neighboring Imperial Valley. This is where the United States gets a big portion of its Wintertime vegetables. The future of the region’s huge annual crop of cauliflower and tomatoes looks bleak as the Salton Sea evaporates into the warming atmosphere.

Water for Coachella Valley’s 125,000 households comes from the aquifer (groundwater basin) beneath the whole length of the Coachella Valley – from Palm Springs to Coachella. Depletion of Coachellan groundwater has been a long-term crisis. Water levels have dropped by more than 100 feet since the 1950s underneath the cities of Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage. These places have 17 golf courses and a carpet of residential subdivisions.

Water managers replenish the aquifer by pumping faraway Colorado River water into the ground. But the Colorado River is subject to hotter temps and more evaporation, and is already strained by 76 million people in the Southwest U.S. who also depend on it for their water. Officials at the Coachella Valley Water District are concerned about how they’ll deliver a reliable water supply for the quickly growing local population. Coachella’s 450,000 people in 2020 is expected to grow to 1,200,000 (1.2 million) in 2050. 

Current: Q4 2022

Water district site:

Local newspaper: 2018/05/23/heavy-pumping-strains-palm-springs-area-water-supply/625052002/

Cars stopped on a highway because everything ahead of them has turned into a raging muddy river. Photo.

Even biblical rainstorms bring no lasting relief from years of drought. But it does bring lots of damage

Disastrous deluges – one week of extreme rain – sandwiched between years of drought – will be more and more a part of Coachella’s torrid new climate. You’d think the rain could at least be captured for people to use, but no. The desert soils get so hard-baked during drought, that the rain quickly flows away and evaporates before it can seep down and refill the underground aquifer.

The Coachella Valley is a place that can be in the grips of a long, oven-like drought then suddenly have powerful floods destroy city infrastructure. Places in Coachella Valley had expensive flooding in February 2019, during a surprisingly voluminous Atmospheric River event.

a heavy duty truck bobbing up and down in flash flood while a rescue vehicle is arriving

It’s happening more often, and will be a common phenomenon in the coming decades: Very long periods of drought in the Coachella Valley – broken by blunt, extremely voluminous rainstorms.

STEM kids know this drought-deluge-drought cycle has to do with the lofty battle between an increasingly durable high pressure ridge keeping moisture trapped over the pacific Ocean, holding back an ever-strengthening Pineapple Express atmospheric river.

When the high-pressure ridge finally relents, the atmospheric river blasts California like a fire hose. These weather-pattern changes are driven by more carbon trapping more solar heat in the atmosphere. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, so when it finally does rain, it comes as a series of ginormous storms.

Current: Q4 2022

Local newspaper: (Feb 21, 2019)

Local newspaper:

A Joshua Tree shown side-by-side with an a colorful cartoon tree from a children's book.

Joshua Trees live only in the Mojave Desert, and they’re going away

Joshua Trees are an unusual form of life you think you might have seen in a Dr. Suess book. Along with the Giant Saguaro in Arizona (which is also facing extinction), Joshuas are an icon species of the American West. Each Joshua Tree (not really a tree species) can live up to 300 years. As a species, Joshua Trees have thrived for at least 2,500,000 years in the high desert above the Coachella Valley. Now, they will become extinct from local climate changes.

Higher temps and longer droughts are killing off the Joshua Moth, the insect that pollinates Joshua Trees. Older Joshua Trees die off, and are not being replaced by new ones. By the 2070s, Joshua Trees will be 80% extirpated (locally extinct) from Joshua Tree National Park. By the 2090s, they’ll all be gone. Like a suburban subdivision, Joshua Tree National Park will bear the name of something no longer there.

Current: Q4 2022

Science media:

Venerable magazine:

Photo art: u/exsplore on edited_comparing_joshua_trees_to_dr/

3.0 Cities in Coachella Valley lack climate leadership

This is where your city government gets a friendly grade on climate performance.

A letter grade for's valuation of a city's performance on climate action with a short list of criteria. Graphic.

It’s 2022 and Coachella Valley gets a D minus in climate gives the cities of Coachella Valley a letter grade so people can check their local government’s progress on climate. Coachella Valley’s D minus grade evaluates the Valley’s nine small cities as a group. It measures the cities’ level of progress on a continuum from no climate planning activity at all, to a well-executed policy/project mix that

1) prepares public infrastructure to adapt to the new climate.

2) switches City assets to carbon-neutral electricity.

3) makes it easy for businesses and residents to get clean electricity and electric vehicles.

In 2020, Coachella Valley’s D minus climate grade indicates the metro municipalities’ level of climate action. The quality of the Valley’s city climate work can be measured when climate efforts have actually begun.

Eight of nine cities in the Coachella Valley stopped planning for climate change back in the earle 2010s. List of the nine cities of the Coachella Valley showing the name of each one's climate plan and its progress. Graphic.

Coachella Valley’s city leaders are sitting on expensive, never-used climate action plans

Back in 2009, the Coachella Council of Governments outsourced the climate planning process of nine cities to an outside consultant. Carbon-copy plans were produced [pun, yes] – and little has occurred since. The City of Palm Desert got a good start and approved a Climate Action Plan in 2010. Then, over the next 11 years, it did nothing to act on it’s plan. The cities of Desert Hot Springs and La Quinta stopped planning when their city councils failed to approve early climate planning efforts.

The State of California requires towns and cities to have (but not necessarily to act upon) a current Climate Action Plan. A Climate Action Plan at minimum includes a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and a plan for eliminating municipal and other sectors’ carbon pollution. But standard planning practice calls for ongoing monitoring and improvement via regularly scheduled progress reports. No Coachella Valley city has done this.

This the cover page of the Draft City of Indio Climate Action Plan, published in May 2019. This is why the Coachella Valley as a whole gets a D- instead of an F.

Good news: One city amongst the nine, fast-growing Indio (nearing 100,000 people – the largest of Coachellan cities), reactivated it’s climate planning process in 2019.

Also, now in its early stages (January 2020), a new “Eastern Coachella Valley Climate Resilience Plan” could guide the City of Coachella to adapt to the changing local climate. Coachella and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments got an initial $170,000 from the State of California to begin planning.

Coachella Valley cities are not planning much to adapt to the changing climate, but some of them are going straight ahead on preventing more damage to the atmosphere. Climate-friendly electricity (mostly solar) is already powering municipal facilities throughout the Valley independent of climate planning process. The deployment of solar energy is less expensive over time than carbon-fired energy. Localities like Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta have been moving to solar electricity – simply as budget-minded, regularly scheduled capital improvement projects. In this mode, some Coachellan cities may be doing better on climate than expected.

Coachella Valley residents: Will Indio’s new planning efforts be outsourced and end up on a shelf, as it had been in previous Coachella Valley planning attempts? Can people in Coachella Valley keep track their cities’ climate initiatives, over time, and hold local leadership accountable?

Current: Q4 2022

Local newspaper:

City sites: reviews all nine cities’ climate action plans and any news on policies, programs, or projects that would indicate progress on climate at the municipal level.

City sites: and

4. Climate Organizations of the Coachella Valley

Six smartly dressed people, five women and one man, pose in the twilight with desert mountain in the background. Photo.

Friends of the Desert Mountains preserves refuge habitat for local plants and animals.

As the local climate changes, many local plant and animal species will find themselves trapped in unlivable locations. Habitat that is still viable may be out of reach because the trending climate is moving faster than a species can relocate, and vast swaths of human-occupied land block these species’ movement.

photo: Friends of Desert Mountains: Sendy Hernández Orellana, Jennifer Prado, Debra Sutley, Colin Barrows, Tammy Martin, and Venessa Becerra

Colorful wildflowers blooming in the desert during a pink early morning dawn. Photo.

The Palm Desert-based group Friends of the Desert Mountains started buying land in 1987 to preserve a wildlife movement corridor between two mountain ranges at the west end of Coachella Valley. The connection gives wildlife the ability to move away from climate-damaged habitat, to higher-elevation places that might offer a survivable climate.

Current: Q4 2022

Org site:

Local magazine:

Slightly chaotic-looking logo 
of a climate activist group. Artwork.

Extinction Rebellion educates Coachellans on the changing climate

Extinction Rebellion takes nonviolent direct action against local governments. “We urge residents to demand local political leaders take action now on climate change,” says local activist Dori Smith. Extinction Rebellion groups appeared in the Coachella Valley in 2016, and a year later in the nearby town of Joshua Tree, California.

Joshua Tree’s extinction group held an education event in November 2019, “Heading for Extinction, and what to do about it,” at the Giant Rock Coffee House. People were briefed on the far-reaching, all-encompassing scope of the Climate Emergency.

Also in November 2019, Coachella Valley extinction rebels held a picnic-education event, “Confronting Climate Change for our Children, Our Communities & Our Future” at Coachella Veterans Memorial Park.

Current: Q4 2022

Local media:

Local radio: “Extinction Rebellion meeting in Joshua Tree tonight” Nov 21, 2019, Z107.7 FM

5.0 Lawmakers from Coachella are much more proactive on climate policy than city hall

Man wearing a dark blue business suit and glasses is speaking. Photo

Eduardo Garcia wins another 10 years for Arnold’s climate law.

Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella City represents the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas in California’s State Assembly. He heads California’s Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies.

Garcia (Democrat – CA 56th) sponsored a law to extend California’s landmark carbon trading program to 2030. The program was started in 2011 by then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law regulates the amount of emissions utilities, refineries, and manufacturing plants are allowed to release into the atmosphere. Businesses that emit over 25,000 tons of carbon must comply.

In July 2017 Garcia made climate local and said, “We’re shifting the global warming dialogue from polar bears and melting ice caps to focus on the severe public health consequences facing disadvantaged, environmentally vulnerable communities, like those in my district.”

Current: Q4 2022

Regional newspaper:

A man looking directly at the camera outside in the sun with a pleasant smile. Photo.

Chad Mayes made a big political sacrifice

Chad Mays, from Yucca Valley, represents Coachella Valley and surrounding areas in California’s State Assembly. Mayes (Republican, CA 42nd), is a politician who sticks to his principles. In 2017, under pressure from his party caucus, Mayes stepped down as minority leader of the California Assembly.

The Republican assembly caucus disgruntled with Mayes because he had helped the Democratic majority extend California’s landmark cap & trade carbon reduction program past 2020. Cap-and-trade requires oil refineries and power plants to pay for the carbon they burn. Undeterred, Mayes said in a 2017 interview, “I’m ready to work on climate change.”

Current: Q4 2022

Regional newspaper:

6.0 Progress on The Great Energy Transition in Coachella

6.1 Progress on the Local Energy Transition in Coachella: Vehicles

A clean-cut man at an orange-colored electric charging station. He's operating it from a handheld pad.

47 is the current count of charge stations in Greater Palm Springs.

As of December 2019, there are 47 electric vehicle charging stations throughout Greater Palm Springs. 39 of these charge stations are available to the public. Private electric stations are mainly inside the gates of golf resorts. Average cost to fully charge a Tesla Model 3 in Palm Springs is $18. Average time for a full charge: 14 minutes. Another 12 charging stations are slated for installation across the Valley in 2020.

Current: Q4 2022

City site:

6.2 Energy Transition in Coachella’s Building Sector

The Porsche dealership in Palm Springs looks like a sleek spaceship just landing in the a desert sunset. Photo.

Porsche’s new Palm Springs dealership is 100% powered by the sun

The new (2019) Porsche dealership in Palm Springs pulls so much energy from its solar rooftop that it supplies all the facility’s energy needs (including auto shop) and charges up it’s new all-electric vehicles.

An electric sports car looks aerodynamic while speeding down a desert highway. Photo.

The new Porsche facility has fast charging portals where owners of the new 2020 Porsche Tayan EV can charge 62 miles of range in just four minutes. Porsche’s new solar-powered dealership is expected to keep 1,677 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry news:

Solar electric panels mirror the setting sun in a lush Palm Springs setting. Photo.

Palm Springs Convention Center is going easier on the atmosphere.

In 2018, the Palm Springs Convention Center got covered with solar panels. The new system is providing the center with 59% of its electricity. By foregoing gas-generated electricity, each year the Convention Center keeps 390 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Palm Springs is also solarizing it’s downtown parking structure, its city parks, a community center, an animal shelter, and a fire station.

Current: Q4 2022

Industry news: