Hurricanes are a major concern for residents of Florida, the Carolinas and other states in the Gulf and East Coast. But they are rarely, if ever, a threat to Californians. That’s because a lot of things keep tropical storms and hurricanes away from the Golden State.
One big reason is that the water temperatures off California are simply too cool for hurricanes to form. Ocean waters must be above 79 degrees for hurricanes to develop, but the Pacific waters off the coast of California are usually in the 70s or even colder.
The water temperatures off of California also get a lot of help from the prevailing winds in the area. These are called westerlies, and they tend to shear the tops off of hurricanes, breaking them apart and reducing their intensity. The westerlies also push the warm water from the equator out to sea, and this cools the surface waters off of the West Coast, making it even more difficult for hurricanes to develop.
Then there’s the fact that the jet stream is constantly pushing the warm waters of the Atlantic over the colder Pacific waters. So, even if the climate in the Atlantic changed dramatically enough to allow hurricanes to form off of California, the jet stream would just keep pushing them back out into the open ocean and away from land. So, unless something changes, it’s unlikely that hurricanes will ever strike California. Even if they did, though, it would probably be more like an atmospheric river event than a traditional hurricane with high winds and rain.