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Weather and Climate in California

Sunset in Santa Monica, California

The California climate differs from region to region but is known for being predominantly Mediterranean-like. Depending on latitude, elevation and closeness to the Pacific coast, temperatures can vary dramatically too.

In coastal regions like San Francisco and Santa Monica as well as southern cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara the climate is highly subtropical enjoying mild and somewhat rainy winters and relatively cool but dry summers. Los Angeles, California's most popular city, has an annual temperature of 17ºc; a winter minimum average of 9ºc and a summer maximum average of 24ºc. The "sunny state's" other popular city is San Francisco with its characteristic fog and wind. These two aspects maintain summer temperatures cool in the city and average at around 22ºc. Meanwhile, winter temperatures drop drastically at an average of around 6ºc but annual averages are around 14ºc.

Further inland, in regions such as Walnut Creek and Burbank, the climate becomes increasingly continental and semi-arid with temperatures soaring in the summer and dropping significantly in the winter. Summer drought in these areas is very typical as annual rainfall is low. In fact, the deeper inland you go, the hotter the environment. It's in California's interior that you can find Death Valley which is one of the hottest and driest places in the country with temperatures reaching extremes in the summertime many times averaging almost 50ºc. California's various valleys have distinct dry summer seasons and cool, foggy plus rainy winter seasons. Unfortunately, California's inland areas suffer frequent wildfires during the summer leading to evacuations and destruction of areas.

For skiing holidays, the best regions to head to are the high mountain ranges, the majority of which are located in northern California such as Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range and the Klamath Mountains for example. Snowfall is heavy here due to the areas oceanic climate and lasts mainly from November to April. Summers in the high mountains offer mild to moderate heat only. California's mountain ranges also influence the state's climate greatly as moisture-laden air which ascends the mountains cools and drops moisture. As a result, northern California receives higher annual rainfall than the state's southern portion.

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