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Treebeard's Stumper Answer
19 October 2001

Mediterranean Climates

It's the end of our summer dry season here in central California. We have a classic Mediterranean Climate with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. It's a harsh climate for native plants and wildlife, though we've made it a very good climate for people and wine grapes. We shouldn't take it for granted, for this weather pattern is not common. Where else in the world can you find this Mediterranean Climate pattern, and what do these places all have in common? (Garden plants, weeds, and wines are a hint!) What has to change before our needed winter storms can arrive?

Here are some statistics from, derived from NCDC TD 9641 Clim 81 1961-1990 Normals for the 30 years between 1961 and 1990. The NOAA Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) have huge amounts of world climate data available for download. Cachuma Lake is midway between my home and my school. This is what a Mediterranean Climate looks like as raw data. Where else in the world can you find this climate pattern? World Climate and the Washington Post Historical Weather Database have world data you can explore. The NWS has a large table of California Climate Normals. There's more detailed Santa Barbara weather data at my Rain or Shine (05 Jan 2001) stumper.

Cachuma Lake, Santa Barbara County, California USA
Located at about 34.58°N 119.98°W, elevation 238m / 780 feet above sea level.

Rainfall (inches)
Max temp (°F)65.166.767.672.176.583.190.090.786.981.772.165.776.5
Min temp (°F)38.840.541.743.346.949.852.052.752.048.643.338.845.7

Our central California Mediterranean Climate with dry summers and mild wet winters is found in just four other parts of the world: the borders of the Mediterranean Sea, central Chile, the Cape of South Africa, and the southwest corner of Australia. These areas are all between 30-45 degrees latitude, on the western edge of their continents, with cold ocean currents and deserts nearby. High pressure develops in the summer and blocks the storms. But our rains will soon push through as this dry subtropical high follows the sun south to the equator during winter.


I've been fishing with my Dad. I'll add notes to this stumper answer as soon as I get caught up!

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