If you have any friends who moved from places with cold winters to the sun-kissed counties of Southern California, you may catch them posting selfies wearing shorts laughing at friends left behind in blustery winter climates. Folks who move over here tend to stay here, and if you ask them, it’s often the case that the year-long warmth is one of the key draws. And you can’t blame them! After all, rains are few and far between, frost never comes unless you’re living thousands of feet above sea level and winter may be about a light sweater – but never a parka! For the many people who visit and move here, the promise of such favorable conditions can be very welcoming indeed.
Oh, but there’s more to it than just warm temperatures. Different parts of Southern California have different climate patterns, each of them a variation on the “endless summer” vibe that can be tailored to different preferences. Do you prefer a constant dry desert heat with cloud-free skies? SoCal has that! Need some thick morning dew to serve up a mild chill before the afternoon sun burns it off? You can find that down here too. Would you like to have it comfortable all year round with some refreshing winter rains? Get out your December umbrellas – SoCal has that on the climate plate too! Easygoing attitudes complement these easygoing latitudes, where the weather makes people pleasant and vice versa.
A Touch of the Mediterranean
A little bit of a weather miracle occurs on America’s West Coast. The cool waters of the California Current drift southward from Alaska, gradually warming up on their way down. By the time they hit the Orange and San Diego County areas, they haven’t warmed enough to match the hot semi-arid climate of SoCal. The heat of the nearby eastern deserts is like a magnet for the sea’s moisture. This evaporation creates a morning “marine layer” as the locals in coastal towns and cities lovingly call it. It’s a gentle blanket of fog that lasts until late morning, offering a buffer against higher temperatures later in the day.
This cooling moisture creates a zone of Mediterranean weather patterns that stretches from the ocean’s edge to several miles inland. The air is more humid and rainfalls are more likely than in nearby regions. This helps promote perfect conditions for vineyards to thrive in the rolling hills and canyons a few miles in from Orange County’s beaches. Early dampness mixed with sun for the rest of the day makes grapes and humans alike very happy. Unless their idea of a great day means being wrapped up in a scarf!
One Steppe Beyond
As we move eastwards into both San Diego and Orange counties, the Mediterranean climate gives way to the power of overwhelming warm fronts that rule the region. The Pacific’s generous endowment of water droplets dissipate and we find ourselves in what is classified as a semi-arid or “steppe” climate. If you hate clouds, you’ll just love the skies in this part of the world. Cities such as Anaheim boast a whopping 280 sunny days per year, with annual rainfall about 2/3 below the national average. This is the SoCal weather that your social media friends brag about! It gets people out there to hike, bike and jog day after day. Take your outdoor fun as far as your imagination will have it!
And unless you find yourself in some of the higher altitudes in San Diego or Orange counties, you won’t be seeing any snow. We are talking 0.0 inches of snow a year! Yes, there are your SoCal friends posting pictures of themselves in the pool again, right after you’ve come in from shoveling the driveway, sidewalk, front steps – oh and possibly your neighbor’s property too if you care to be extra generous.
The holiday season can seem surreal as Christmas displays light up nearby palm trees and succulent plants. Picnics happen from January through the end of the year. It’s always shorts weather. Even more so as the famed Santa Ana winds blow in during the autumn and winter months. These low-humidity gusts emit pockets of pleasant breezes that feel like an airy cascade of warmth skipping across the skin. But hold on to your hat! Some of those winds can hit some serious MPH! All of these conditions allow for year-round growing seasons, ensuring the very best fresh produce is available month after month, adding to the quality of life here.
Some Like It Hot
The further we travel away from the Pacific Ocean in the Orange and San Diego counties, the closer we get to deserts – in fact, the fabled Anza-Borrego Desert falls squarely within San Diego borders. The lifestyle of such climes, however, is best exemplified just to the north and east in Coachella Valley – this is the region that holds legendary resort communities such as Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. Here, the sun is even stronger and rain is even more scarce – think 350 cloudless days a year! And yet the surrounding peaks are often dusted with snow, offering that wintery feel without bringing chilly temperatures.
The hot, dry climate provides a wonderful average air quality year-round, and poolside activities are embedded in everyday life. The surrounding environment beckons residents and visitors alike to explore the desert terrain and the amazing flora and fauna it holds. Cool drinks are a must, and dining al fresco is just as common as eating inside. A variety of activities, including art walks, outdoor food fests, live open-sky music events, races and more populate the calendar throughout the entire year. Hawaiian shirts mingle with black-tie affairs, and flip-flops are accepted almost anywhere. Desert living isn’t for everyone, but those happy to shun rain in favor of sunshine may just find paradise on earth right here in SoCal.