Can California Get Hurricanes?

A California hurricane is a tropical cyclone that affects the state of California. Typically, only the remnants of these storms reach the state, and since 1900, only two still-tropical storms have made landfall in California. The southern part of the state may experience the remnants of hurricanes that have traveled north from Mexico, but they are usually mild by the time they arrive. So why don't we see hurricanes on the West Coast? Wind direction and cold water are the main reasons.

There is a lot of wind shear off the coast in Southern California, and the California current has a greater influence on storms further north. The colder ocean waters just north of the tip of Baja California are where Pacific hurricanes will die, and El Niño episodes can bring warmer waters near the coast. In addition, Southern Californians are now resistant to flooding due to storms from 1938 to 1939, which led to all major rivers here being concreted. High level winds tend to carry and direct storms west and northwest, away from California, and also tend to cut through hurricane peaks, breaking them.

It is highly unlikely that any tropical cyclone will threaten areas further north in California. Although El Niño has become part of the vernacular in Southern California, it is not entirely impossible for a tropical system in front of Mexico to move to California. However, many things will have to happen for this to occur.

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