Is California Humid Or Dry? An In-Depth Look At California’S Climate

If you are wondering whether California has humid or dry weather, you’re not alone. With its immense size and diverse landscapes, California’s climate varies greatly across the state.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Most of California has a hot, dry climate with low humidity levels. Some coastal areas are more humid, while mountain regions are cooler and drier.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the factors that influence California’s climate, examine humidity levels in different parts of the state, and help you understand exactly how humid or arid different California locales are.

What Influences California’s Climate?

California’s climate is influenced by several factors, including the Pacific Ocean, its diverse geography and terrain, and the Mediterranean climate. Let’s take a closer look at each of these influences:

Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean plays a significant role in shaping California’s climate. The cool California Current, which flows southward along the coast, helps to moderate the temperature and keep it relatively mild.

The ocean also contributes to the formation of coastal fog, which can have a cooling effect on the surrounding areas. The Pacific Ocean’s proximity to California also brings moisture that contributes to the state’s overall humidity.

Diverse Geography and Terrain

California’s diverse geography and terrain contribute to its varied climate patterns. The state’s topography includes mountains, valleys, deserts, and coastal regions, each with its own unique climate characteristics.

For example, the Sierra Nevada mountain range blocks the passage of moisture-laden air, resulting in drier conditions in the eastern parts of the state. In contrast, the coastal areas benefit from the ocean’s influence, experiencing milder temperatures and higher humidity levels.

Mediterranean Climate

One of the defining features of California’s climate is its Mediterranean climate. This type of climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, rainy winters. It is influenced by the subtropical high-pressure systems and the seasonal movement of the Pacific High.

These factors result in a precipitation pattern that is concentrated in the winter months, with little to no rainfall during the summer. The Mediterranean climate is most prominent in the central and southern parts of the state, including regions such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

Humidity Levels Across California

California’s climate is known for its diverse range of environments, which leads to varying levels of humidity across the state. Let’s take a closer look at how humidity levels differ in different regions of California.

Coastal Regions

The coastal regions of California, including cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, experience a more moderate and comfortable level of humidity. The proximity to the ocean helps to regulate the humidity, keeping it relatively stable throughout the year.

The cool ocean breeze also contributes to a pleasant climate, making these areas popular tourist destinations.

Central Valley

The Central Valley of California, stretching from Sacramento to Bakersfield, is known for its hot and dry summers. However, the humidity levels in this region can vary. During the summer months, the humidity tends to be lower, which can result in drier conditions.

In contrast, the winter months can be more humid, especially during periods of rain. The combination of high temperatures and increased humidity can make the summers in the Central Valley feel particularly uncomfortable.


California is home to several desert regions, including the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. These areas experience extremely low levels of humidity, especially during the summer months. The arid climate and lack of moisture in the air can make the desert regions feel exceptionally dry.

It’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the intense sun when visiting these areas.


The mountainous regions of California, such as the Sierra Nevada range, have their own unique climate. The higher altitudes can lead to cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. While the mountain areas may not be as dry as the desert regions, they still tend to have lower humidity compared to the coastal and Central Valley regions.

The crisp mountain air and stunning landscapes attract outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

It’s worth noting that humidity levels can vary within each region depending on factors such as time of year, proximity to bodies of water, and weather patterns. For more detailed and up-to-date information on California’s climate and humidity levels, you can visit the website of the National Weather Service or the National Climate Assessment.

Notable Dry & Humid Cities in California

Dry: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Palm Springs

When it comes to dry cities in California, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Palm Springs are certainly worth mentioning. These cities are known for their arid climates and relatively low humidity levels. Los Angeles, often referred to as the “City of Angels,” is located in Southern California and experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

The average annual precipitation in Los Angeles is around 15 inches, making it one of the drier cities in the state.

Sacramento, the capital city of California, also falls under the dry category. Situated in the Central Valley, Sacramento experiences hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The average annual precipitation in Sacramento is approximately 18 inches, with most rainfall occurring during the winter months.

Palm Springs, located in the Coachella Valley, is renowned for its desert climate and dry conditions. It boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year, and the average annual precipitation is a mere 5 inches.

With its warm winters and scorching summers, Palm Springs is a popular destination for those seeking a dry and sunny getaway.

Humid: San Francisco, Eureka, Santa Cruz

On the other hand, some cities in California have more humid climates. San Francisco, known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and foggy summers, experiences a cool-summer Mediterranean climate. The city’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean contributes to its high humidity levels.

The average annual precipitation in San Francisco is around 23 inches, with the majority of rainfall occurring during the winter months.

Eureka, located on the northern coast of California, is famous for its foggy weather and high humidity. Situated in Humboldt County, Eureka experiences a maritime climate with cool, wet winters and mild, dry summers.

The average annual precipitation in Eureka is approximately 40 inches, making it one of the wettest cities in California.

Santa Cruz, a coastal city in Central California, also falls under the humid category. With its Mediterranean climate, Santa Cruz experiences mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The city receives an average annual precipitation of about 30 inches, with the majority of rainfall occurring between November and April.

For more detailed information on California’s climate and weather patterns, you can visit the National Weather Service website or the National Climate Information Center.


As we’ve explored, California’s climate varies greatly based on proximity to the coast, elevation, and other geographic factors. While the state overall is relatively dry, some coastal regions do see higher humidity levels. Within California, you can find everything from hot, bone-dry deserts to cool, misty forests. Hopefully this breakdown gives you a better understanding of the climate across the diverse landscapes of the Golden State.

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