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It Never Rains in California: Weather Advice

If you bought into the Albert Hammond 1970’s song that had the classic “It never rains in California” line it is important to remember the following line “But it pours”.  The Beach Boys spent years on the radio giving people the impression that California was all sun, fun and year-round surfing, so you could be forgiven for thinking that the weather in California is always dry. 

The truth is that California does enjoy more days of sunshine than most other states, but to believe that it never rains is foolish. In fact, it snows in some parts of the state, and during the winter months temperatures drop low enough that the mountains are constantly capped with snow.

California is a large state, spread over many miles, and temperatures and climate differences between Northern California and Southern California can be quite noticeable. Though rain is not something that Californians always prepare for i.e. carrying an umbrella everywhere, when it does rain it generally is quite a significant downpour that can last from a few minutes to several days. 

Many parts of California suffer from the constant dry weather. Drought, or at the very least, low water supplies affect many cities, with hosing restrictions being put in place over the summer months, and in some cases even throughout the winter months.

One of the drawbacks of rain on a traditionally dry state is that when it does rain the earth is too hard and dry to absorb enough water to prevent flash floods. Land slides and flash floods are not uncommon during winter months, and can cause devastation in residential areas, with houses being swept away by mud sliding down the hillside behind them. 

Flash floods can be just as devastating, catching motorists unaware, stranding them until the high water levels recede. Worst case scenario is that people lose their lives when swept away by fast moving water caused by a sudden onslaught of heavy rain. 

Rain does happen in California, more so in Northern California than Southern, but it can (and does) rain in all parts of the state. If you are camping or traveling by RV through the desert, make sure you check the weather forecast and keep abreast of the latest updates should it rain so that you can avoid being caught by flash flooding. Many people not familiar with the California desert don’t think of floods when it rains.

Thinking of heading into the mountains this winter? Tire chains are a must, and if not familiar with their installation or how to drive with them on, take the time to learn before you find yourself in a situation that calls for them. Many higher elevation passes are closed to vehicles not equipped with chains, and during the worst weather, even having chains may not be enough. The Grapevine located in Kern County is one such pass that is often closed during winter months. 

One of the things that many Californian residential motorists overlook during the summer months is their windshield wipers. These become dry and brittle when not used and then when rain occurs they fail to keep the windshield clear enough to provide adequate vision for the driver. If rain occurs once a driver is on the freeway and the windshield wiper blades are in poor shape, getting off the freeway to get them replaced can be a hazardous task. 

It is always best to check the weather forecast no matter what the current weather is, as change can come suddenly. It is true that California does enjoy mostly dry weather but to think that it is true 365 days of the year is erroneous. Rain, snow, sleet and ice are all realities in California, and should be treated with the same respect and caution as in any other state. 

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