Arrive prepared to battle the elements in “Nashville West”
Tucked away on the south end of Central California’s San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield offers a unique and varied landscape, as lush farmland, dense citrus orchards and prosperous oil fields give way to a bustling metropolis where country music wafts from clubs and parks sit along the banks of the Kern River. Nestled between the Coast Range and Sierra Nevada Mountains, the region features mild temps throughout the year, except during the summer when conditions are severe and punishing. Learn all about Bakersfield’s weather patterns and arrive ready to handle the elements and explore the area.
Central California’s climate
Stretching 450 miles long, California’s Central Valley runs from the Cascade Mountains in the north to the Tehachapi Mountains in the south, to the Coast Range in the west and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the east. The region is divided into two parts, with the Sacramento Valley in the north featuring a warm Mediterranean climate, and the San Joaquin Valley in the south, where Bakersfield is located, offering a dry, desert-like climate. The Sacramento Valley is inundated with about 20 inches of rain each year, while the south accumulates only around 5 inches annually. Tule, or low-hanging fog, is heavy in both areas during the winter but summertime humidity in the San Joaquin Valley is particularly high.
Overview of the weather in Bakersfield
With its desert climate, Bakersfield offers warm conditions most of the year. In fact, between April and October, the area often sees more than 100 days when temps reach at least 90 degrees F. The city’s average high, however, measures around 76 F and the average low is about 53 F. The city also features more than 270 days of annual sunshine and just about 6 inches of rain each year. Snow is even rarer but flurries sometimes fall once every decade or so.
Season by season conditions
Winter in Bakersfield sees mild conditions, with daytime temps reaching the high 50s and lows dropping to high 30s, although biting north winds sometimes blow through town. Most of the city’s annual rainfall occurs during the winter, but it’s only a little over an inch each month, particularly from December through March. Things start to warm up in the spring as highs climb to the mid-70s and lows dip into the 50s. During the scorching summers, temps often reach the high 90s and low 100s, while evenings maintain a tepid 70 F. Summer conditions are also dry with low humidity. You’ll notice a cooling period in the autumn when daytime highs range from the mid-70s to the high 60s and lows fall to the mid-50s.
Packing tips for your Bakersfield vacation
When packing for a spring or fall trip to Bakersfield, prepare for warm days and brisk evenings by bringing plenty of layers, such as cotton pants, short-sleeve shirts, cardigan sweaters, thin scarves and a light jacket. Battle the brutal summers with a hat, sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses and a water bottle, as well as light clothing such as shorts, tank tops and sandals. Protect yourself against the winter winds by packing jeans, sweaters, knit hats, gloves, scarves and a heavy jacket. Keep an umbrella on hand for possible rain as well.
While Bakersfield features relatively mild conditions, the surrounding interstates and highways may suffer major weather-related delays. If you’re traveling from Los Angeles, you’ll most likely arrive via Interstate 5 which runs through the Grapevine, a towering pass at more than 4,100 feet in the Tehachapi Mountains. During the winter, snow and ice are common on the Grapevine and the pass is sometimes closed to traffic or requires snow chains. Highway 178, which connects Lake Isabella with Bakersfield, may experience closures due to heavy snow in the winter and rock slides following heavy rain. Highway 58, which runs from Barstow through the Antelope Valley, also closes occasionally because of snow and black ice.