Archive for March, 2009

The Climates of the Desert Southwest

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Pacific Coast Zone

Pacific Coast Zone

There are four basic climates of the desert southwest. Along the coast of the Pacific and extending up to 2 miles inland is the coastal zone. Next after the coastal zone is the inland zone. This zone extends from 2 miles inland to about 15 miles inland. The third zone is the mountain zone. This zone starts at about 2000 ft on the coastal side and extends through the high mountain peaks down to 2000 feet on the desert side. The fourth zone is the desert zone. The desert zone begins at 2000 feet on the desert side of the mountains and extends to the central prairie zone. Each of these main zones has up to 5 sub zones but detailed descriptions are beyond this introductory summary.

The Coastal Zone

This zone is referred to as the Mediterranean climate. It has 2 basic seasons. The warm dry season from May to November and the cool  wet season from November to April. The dry season has day temperatures from the low 70’s F to the mid 80’s F. The night temperatures are from the low 70’s F to the mid 60’s F. The cool wet season temperatures are 60’s F daytime and from 50’s F to mid 40’s F at night. During the wet season rain comes from Pacific storms.

The Inland Zone

This zone has temperatures that are about 10 degrees warmer and 10 degrees colder than the coastal zone. This zone has more rainfall than the coastal zone because the mountains of the next zone cause storm clouds to drop their rain before they cross the mountains.

The Mountain zone

This zone begins at 2000 feet on the coastal side goes to the tallest peaks then down to 2000 feet on the desert side. It has an alpine climate, warm summers and cold winters usually with snow.

The Desert zone

Beginning at 2000 feet on the eastern slope of the mountains this zone at times extends below sea level. This zone has hot summers usually 100+ F and wet warm winters. Vegetation ranges from scrub brush to cactus. Terrain ranges from barren rock to sand dunes and anything in between.

These four zones add variety to a large area of the American southwest. It is a little amazing at times that within 100 miles you can experience four different climates. If you become bored with one climate all you have to do is move a few miles and climate and scenery change drastically.

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