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The climate of California (United States of America)
The state of California is the second largest state of the United States of America. This is also distinctly noticeable in terms of weather and climate. California has a surface area of 411,049 square kilometers. Several different climate types can be distinguished in California. In California large differences in weather may occur at the same time. During the summer a difference of 30 degrees between the hottest and the coldest area is not uncommon. While temperatures in Crescent City in the north may only rise to 20 degrees Celsius (68.0 degrees Fahrenheit) it may be extremely hot in Death Valley in the south. Temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade are not uncommon here.

The largest part of California has a Mediterranean climate. The coastal regions mainly have a moderate Mediterranean climate (type Csb according to the Köppen Geiger climate classification). The regions somewhat further into the interior as well as the southern coastal regions have a warm Mediterranean climate (type Csa). In the northwestern part of California there is a small zone (Shasta Cascade) with a moderate continental climate (type Dsb). This is because the influence of the sea behind the westerly mountain ridges of the Sierra Nevada rapidly decreases and this region is located too far to the north to have a desert climate. The eastern part, especially the regions southeast of Lake Tahoe as well as the southeastern part of California either have a warm desert climate (type Bwh) or a cold desert climate (Bwk). This applies to the southern part of the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave desert and Imperial Valley.

Climate information of places in California
The climate information given on this page is only brief. Specific information on weather and climate can be found on the pages per region or city. The following climate information is available for California:

Beverly Hills
Big Sur
Central Valley
Crescent City
Death Valley

Imperial Valley
Laguna Beach
Lake Tahoe
Long Beach
Los Angeles

Palm Springs
Salton Sea
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Cruz
Santa Monica
Shasta Cascade
Tahoe City
Venice Beach
Yosemite National Park


Large differences in precipitation figures can be recorded in California. The southeastern part of California consists of desert areas and mountains and is very dry. These regions can only record a few inches of annual precipitation. This region is among the driest in the United States of America. Central Valley is dry as well because it is situated on the leeward side of the Coast Ranges mountain range. Precipitation figures rapidly increase north of Stockton. The Sierra Nevada is fairly wet, especially the western strip where rain clouds that come from the sea remain stationary. The northwestern part of California is the wettest. Several regions can record more than 3,000 millimeters of annual precipitation.

California is a sunny destination with the exception of the coastal regions in the northwest. The capital Sacramento is the sunniest, here the sun shines 73% of the time. The coastal cities of Los Angeles (72%) and San Francisco are also sunny. This is why LA has the image of a very sunny city where the rich and famous enjoy the weather in their convertibles. A white Christmas in LA is uncommon, only in the mountains snow may fall during Christmas.

Wintry weather
While you can enjoy the winter sun along the southwest coast of California large amounts of snow may fall in the mountains in the northwest. The largest amount of snowfall in one month was recorded in California. In January 1911 Alpine County could record 991 centimeters (32.5 feet) of snow. In the higher regions in the Sierra Nevada snow falls on a regular basis during the winter. The highest regions can record up to 750-1000 centimeters (24.6-32.8 feet) of snowfall per year. Snow mainly falls from November till March. In the northwestern part of California snowfall and subzero temperatures are not uncommon either. However, to a much lesser degree than in the mountains.

Several hundreds of kilometers south of San Diego there is a risk of hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions during hurricane season. These phenomena may travel somewhat further to the north. However, California has no risk of getting hit by a tropical storm. There is a risk of another phenomenon, which is not related to the climate: earthquakes. California is situated on an active fault. Earthquakes can be recorded on a regular basis here. Scientists think Los Angeles will get hit by a heavy earthquake sometime in the future. This heavy earthquake will cause so much damage that it may lead to the bankruptcy of the United States.

The cold Gulf Stream which is known as the California Current supplies relatively cool sea water. Because of this temperatures are tempered during the summer. A very characteristic phenomenon for California is mist caused by the relatively cold sea water. San Francisco is often shrouded in mist. This mist is caused by convection; rising warm air in the east causes colder and wetter air to be drawn in from sea. Differences in temperatures between the air and the earth cause this mist. This phenomenon occurs along the entire coastline with the exception of the regions south of Santa Barbara. During the summer this mist causes temperatures to be relatively low. Because of the moist air it may feel even colder.

The southeastern part of California is known for its extremely high temperatures. During the summer Death Valley is among the hottest places on earth. This is also why car manufacturers test their vehicles in these extreme conditions. This is also the reason why this region was named Death Valley. Without water the heat is unbearable. Daytime temperatures rising well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade cause things to be very unpleasant.

100 degrees
A striking fact is that the difference between the highest and the lowest temperature on record is exactly 100 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature on record was recorded on 10 July 1913 in Death Valley: 57 degrees Celsius (135 degrees Fahrenheit). The coldest temperature on record was recorded in Boca which is located in the vicinity of the border with the state of Nevada on 20 January 1937: -43 degrees Celsius (-45 degrees Fahrenheit).

Climate information
Throughout California several climate figures and temperatures can be recorded. The figures below are for Los Angeles and its surroundings and cannot be seen as an average for this state. For climate figures for other places and regions in California please, visit the individual climate pages.

temperature (°C)


temperature (°C)
hours of sunshine

average days with precipitation
per month
per month
temperature (°C)
January 19 8 7 7 14
February 20 9 8 5 14
March 21 10 9 6 14
April 22 11 10 3 15
May 24 13 9 2 16
June 26 15 10 1 17
July 29 17 12 1 18
August 30 18 11 2 19
September 29 17 9 2 18
October 26 15 8 3 17
November 22 11 7 4 16
December 20 8 7 5 15
= 0-5 mm ● = 6-30 mm ● = 31-60 mm ● = 61-100 mm ● = 101-200 mm ● = over 200 mm
= 0-0.2 inches ● = 0.2-1.2 inches ● = 1.2-2.4 inches ● = 2.5-4 inches ● = 4.1-8 inches ● = over 8 inches

More climate information
Climate tables are useful but they don’t give an overall picture of the climate and possible weather conditions during a particular period of time. How high the chances are of hot or cold weather or hurricanes can often not be found in these tables. This is why we offer extra climate information per month. The figures below apply to the southwestern part of California, between San Francisco and San Diego. In other regions in California small to large deviations may occur in the field of chances of warm weather, chances of long lasting precipitation and guaranteed sunshine. For climate figures on specific regions and places please, visit the relevant individual climate pages

chance of
(very) hot


chance of
(very) cool
chance of

chance of
chance of
sunny days


click here for the explanation of the symbols

The information at this site was carefully composed from climate data collected by meteorological services, meteorological offices, climate experts and other sources. “More climate info” is based on statistics, climate data and personal experience. No rights can be derived from this site. Weather has no memory and gives no guaranties. Nothing is as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. The authors of this site feel in no way responsible for any damages caused by misinterpretation or other circumstances that may influence your holiday or trip to a certain destination. We provide information, it’s up to the reader to use it to it’s benefit.


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