The climate of California
has a diverse climate ranging from a wet temperate rainforest in the north, hot, arid desert in the interior, snowy alpine in the mountains, and the warm Mediterranean in the rest of the state. The Pacific Ocean borders the western part of the state, Oregon the north, Arizona and Nevada the east, and Mexico the south. The state's varied topography covers the Pacific Ocean on the west coast to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and redwood forests in the north to the Mojave Desert in the south.
The climate ranges from polar to subtropical due to the large size of the state. Summer fog is regular on the coast due to the cold California current, while inland areas experience cold winters and hot summers. Proximity to the Pacific Ocean regulates summer temperatures of parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco near to the coast and creates different microclimates as downtowns of these cities experience hotter summer temperatures and colder winters.
Northern parts of California are rainier than the south, and the high mountain ranges influence the climate as western mountain slopes receive more rain than the eastern leeward parts that lie in the rain shadow region. The high mountains on the western side have an alpine climate, while those in the east have hot summers and cold winters. Death Valley, a desert on the eastern side, is the hottest location in the world with a recorded temperature of 134°F (56.7°C), while Boca has the lowest recorded temperature in the state of -45°F (-42.8°C).
Summers tend to be mild along the coast such as the San Francisco area with an average high temperature of 67°F (19.4°C) at the peak in August
, while the central and eastern parts of California tend to be hot with average high temperatures of 91°F (32.8°C) to 97°F (36.1°C) in Sacramento and Fresno.
Winter average low temperatures are approximately 40°F (4.4°C) to 50°F (10°C) in the coastal areas, while Mammoth Lakes in the mountains of Sierra Nevada freezes to an average low temperature of 15°F (-9.4°C).
Spring is damp and warmer than the winter, while autumn is colder than the summer in most parts of the state.
Rainfall is chiefly during the winter in most parts of the state, and the annual precipitation in California is 18" (457mm).
Snowfall is common in the northern alpine regions where it averages in the range of 60" (1524mm) to 70" (1778mm) over the year.
Summer fog is a distinct feature of the western coasts, while frost is regular during winter in various parts of the state.
The best time to visit California
The best time to visit many parts of California
is during spring and autumn, while some are fine even in the peak of summer.
Mid-spring is a good time as the winter cold recedes, and the sun resumes duties in full glory. Western coastal regions like San Francisco experience mild and pleasant summer days in the 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) range. Up in the north, summers are comfortable without extremities of temperatures.
Autumn has mild temperatures, particularly in the central, eastern, and southern parts of the state, with a sprinkling of rain.
Generally, both spring and autumn tend to be less hot and humid than the summer in a majority of areas of California and are more pleasant.
The worst time to visit California
Winter from December
is the worst time to visit most of California
as the state experiences cold and chilly weather.
Northern California, with its highlands and mountain ranges, is chilly as the higher altitudes accumulate large amounts of snow often up to 100" (2540mm). On the western side, the coastal areas around the Pacific Ocean are relatively warmer compared to the inland regions, but temperatures are low during the winter nights. The deserts in the south also tend to be cold during the winter nights.
Although there are a few areas in the state where summers are avoidable, usually winter is the most avoidable period in the majority of California.
lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, which makes it susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity. Many fault lines run through the state, such as the San Andreas Fault and the Hayward Fault, that cause earthquakes of variable intensity; as many as 37000 earthquakes occur in the state, but many are too weak to take notice.
Wildfires are a threat in the dry summers that consume hundreds of acres of forestlands. Winds such as the Santa Ana add to the intensity of the hazardous climatic events.
Floods, landslides on steep terrain, and droughts occur in various parts of the state due to the diversity of weather patterns.
Weather in January
is the coldest month of the year in California
with the mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the frigid 3°F (-16.1°C) to 15°F (-9.4°C) average range amid snowy alpine conditions. The state has the widest variety of pine trees in the world that makes spectacular scenery in the backdrop of the snow! Elsewhere in the state, however, the cold is more manageable with day temperatures of 54°F (12.2°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) and nights in the range of 30°F (-1.1°C) to 45°F (7.2°C). Weather in January »
Weather in February
is the last winter month in California
, which sees average low temperatures in the cold 38°F (3.3°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) zone and the average high temperatures in the 58°F (14.4°C) to 68°F (20°C) range across different areas of the state. Weather in February »
Weather in March
sees the arrival of the beautiful spring with a fresh aroma of the blossoming of wildflowers, especially in the northern highlands and the rural hinterlands. It is wet with a fair amount of rain, a touch of humidity and the sunshine peeking through the clouds intermittently — the average temperatures in the state range from a low of 45°F (7.2°C) to 50°F (10°C) to a high of 65°F (18.3°C) to 70°F (21.1°C). Weather in March »
Weather in April
is a beautiful month in California
, which spreads the wings of spring across the entire state. The wildflowers, redwood and pine trees, and giant sequoia trees provide a natural beauty to the landscape as the lands, forests, and hills come alive after the departure of the cold and wet winter. April is one of the best times to visit California with the average temperatures in the 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) range across the state. Weather in April »
Weather in May
witnesses brilliant sunshine in California
that lasts up to an average of 8 hours a day. Temperatures at many places are between a warm 75°F (23.9°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) during the day, while the nights are temperate between 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.6°C). Beaches in the south, such as Long Beach and Huntington Beach, have reasonably warm waters with the sea temperature of approximately 70°F (21.1°C) that many visitors find refreshing and enjoyable. Weather in May »
Weather in June
is summer in California
with average high temperatures in the sunny 75°F (23.9°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range and average lows of 55°F (12.8°C) to 65°F (18.3°C). An average of 9 hours of daily sunshine registers during the month as the days are mostly sunny and bright. Weather in June »
Weather in July
is peak summer in California
with average high temperatures between 80°F (26.7°C) to 85°F (29.4°C). The northern parts and highlands, coastal areas, and central regions are a little cooler compared to the eastern and southern parts that border the states of Nevada and Arizona, which have a semi-arid climate. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is a hot and dry summer month with many parts of the state in the 85°F (29.4°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) range during the day. The skies are dry and mostly clear with relatively lesser humidity compared to the winter. Nights are between the 60°F (15.6°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) in many areas except the deserts and mountains where the temperatures see more deviation than the plains and lowlands. Many sunny days adorn August with the average sunlight of 9 hours, which sees a rush of visitors to California
's beaches, mountains, and national parks. Weather in August »
Weather in September
beckons the beautiful autumn season to California
with its majestic colors, splendor, and pleasant weather conditions. High temperatures touch 90°F (32.2°C) for a few days in some places, but usually, they are between 75°F (23.9°C) and 85°F (29.4°C). Weather in September »
Weather in October
is another great time to visit California
with the autumn in full cry and some of the best weather conditions in the state. Average temperatures across the state are in a temperate zone of 50°F (10°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) with many sunny days during the month and the relatively meager amount of rain. Humidity is 65%, with mostly clear skies and mild nights. Weather in October »
Weather in November
ends the beautiful autumn in California
, and the winter sets its sights on the state by the end of the month. The average temperatures are in the mild 45°F (7.2°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) with a slight decrease in the number of sunny days. Sunlight drops to an average of 7 hours, and there is a rise in humidity levels. Weather in November »
Weather in December
lies in the cold of winter with the average high temperatures in the 55°F (12.8°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range and the average low temperatures in the mildly cold 37°F (2.8°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) range across the northern parts of the state. Weather in December »