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Old 01-11-2012, 04:48 PM
Location: New Brunswick
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If the California Current was a warm water Current what would the west coast of North America be like from British Columbia down to California?

I'm thinking that the summer would be more humid and perhaps less dry but I'm unsure about the winter. There would probably be warmer summer highs and lows as well. Surfers would love the warmer waters but probably hate the increase crowds. I have no idea if the Northwest would be as cloudy and consistently rainy.
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:14 PM
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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If it's like the Gulf Stream in Europe, I'm guessing not a huge difference. Remember a thread I had on the Gulf Stream:

- Probably a few degrees warmer overall.

- Stronger warm influence in terms of summer lows.

- More summer rainfall, possibly less sunshine overall.

- Probably a lot less Csb in California, more Csa. Weather like Point Reyes and Sausalito wouldn't exist, at least not to that extreme.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:55 PM
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Most areas of the Western coastline of North America from British Columbia to California are some of the least thunderstorm/lightning prone places in the world because of the Cold California Ocean current and thunderstorms/lightning for the most part is very rare, especially compared to the Central and Eastern Parts of North America.

There would definitely be many more thunderstorms during the summer if the California ocean current was warmer. It would probably be similar to the thunderstorm activity of the Eastern USA Atlantic coastline.

I think summer would still be mostly dry (still drier than autumn, winter, and spring) and actually sunnier for the Western Coastline of North America. Even though a lot of those places currently have very dry summers with the Cold California ocean current, a lot of coastal summer clouds and fog still forms. However, summer would still be a bit more wet with sudden thunderstorms that drop rain quickly.

Winter temperatures would be even more mild and a bit warmer with a warmer ocean current there, especially with winds mostly from the West and Southwest.

The Western USA coastline would have a much higher Tropical storm/Hurricane risk with a warmer Ocean current, especially Southern California.

San Francisco, Eureka, and Point Reyes climates wouldn't exist.
The Pacific Northwest would probably be much more sunnier and less cloudy annually but still with almost the same exact amount of annual precipitation for Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland.

Last edited by Thepastpresentandfuture; 01-11-2012 at 09:06 PM..
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:04 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Western Massachusetts
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The high pressure system in the American West would still exist. Summers would still not be very wet, though perhaps there would be a few scattered thunderstorms, but summer would remain a dry season. The additional moisture would lead to a bit more cloudiness, though.

But at least near the coast, the wetter air would make the air more humid and the nights would be much warmer. The very cold coastal summers would disappear.

You still won't get thunderstorms like you do in North America east of the Rockies, due to the high pressure and weak temperature contrasts. The California current isn't all that cold in the winter time, and it's actually much warmer than the Atlantic at the same latitude is in the winter (at least above 35° or so), so I'm not sure what the winter effect would be. I don't think the tropical storm risk would increase that much; the steering currents tend to make tropical storms avoid the west coast regardless of the sea surface temps.

The humid air + little precipitation combination is common in the eastern Mediterrean.

Also, redwoods would be more extensive. They can't tolerate dryness so they only survive in spots along the coast that gets fog incursions. If there were small amounts of rain in the summer, they could survive more inland.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:49 AM
Location: USA East Coast
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From what I understand, even if the California current was warm water current, it would not change the coastal climate of California much at all. California has a cool(ish) summer climate because the prevailing winds/air masses that pass over coastal California originated in the middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. These stable, cool air masses are much opposed to vertical turning (thunderstorms) and have their source regions in the middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. The same is true of the whole North American West Coast.

For Coastal California to have hot summers like Florida or much of the lower Atlantic/Gulf states, the summer air masses must come from a source region with warm tropical air. The southerly wind flow and tropical air masses from the Caribbean/Bahamas …etc is what creates the hot summers in the Gulf/SA states, - it has nothing to do with the warm Gulf Stream. This is also true of summer lows: CA has cool summer lows as opposed to stations at the same latitude on the Atlantic because the Bermuda High pumps in warm tropical air masses from the Gulf and tropical Atlantic…while on the CA coast the North Pacific High is feed by cool mid latitude ocean air from the central Pacific Ocean.

As far as SST (Sea Surface Temperatures)…the Pacific Ocean is actually colder than the Atlantic from 35 latitude southward in winter…and much colder than the Atlantic in summer. This IS due (in part) to the fact that the coasts of Florida and the lower Atlantic are fed with a warm tropical ocean current all year…while the coast of CA is feed by a cool high latitude current. The Pacific High is also responsible for helping create the cool CA current. So if the CA current was suddenly a warm ocean current, it would have to change direction and come from the south (maybe off the West Coast of Mexico and Central America), instead of from the Gulf of Alaska.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:02 PM
Location: New Brunswick
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Thank you for the responses they have really made me understand the West Coast better and given me much to think about.

It does make sense that the prevailing winds/air masses are a big part of why coastal California has cool summers, and I can see how a warm water current would be impossible.

I like to visualize a west coast city with hot summer highs and lows but that is likely wishful thinking.

The only thing I can think of to make coastal California have warmer summers is a continent to the west and south west which would block the Pacific air mass and maybe force tropical air more northwards.
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:29 PM
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Probably our climate would look very similar to the way it an extreme El Niño year + maybe a little more; summers would still be dry relative to their winters and the summer SST would still be cooler relative to the same latitude in the Atlantic.

HOWEVER, the summer would go from being bone dry at the coast to having about an average of half an inch of rain a month (maybe 2-3 thunderstorms a month!) in the driest month and the yucky marine layer would be much reduced to light AM clouds for a month or so in spring and go away completely by June.

Summer SST would probably average around 75 F in L.A and have bouts where they exceed 80 F making tropical cyclone landfalls possible (but still rare compared to the East Coast); I'd imagine maybe once every 25-50 years, there might be a landfall in SoCal. San Francisco's summer SST would probably peak in the upper 60s and you'd be able to walk around Fisherman's Wharf in a shorts and a tee shirt instead of a heavy jacket in most evenings.

Winters would also become wetter with the subtropical jet being enhanced and the L.A. annual rainfall would double but the sunshine hours would only decrease slightly (they might actually increase in the foggier parts of the coast due to the lack of marine layer).

I think this year of 2015 might resemble what a warm California current looks like; esp if SST continue to rise later this month and in September. San Diego's SST has exceeded 75 F a few times in July and will be at warmest in about a month or so.

Last edited by ABrandNewWorld; 08-10-2015 at 07:53 PM..
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