CIVR Blog: Off Season Weather


One of the many reasons to visit in the off season is the weather. Almost always mild, winter weather on Catalina Island still provides its share of excitement and renewal.

Santanas. These winds can happen anytime, but are more common in the fall, winter and spring. Blowing across the channel with surprising power, they push water before them, creating waves in Avalon Harbor. And by waves, I mean literally rideable surf. Northeasters, as they are known on the island, happen several times a year and occasionally become truly awe-inspiring, crashing over the waterside restaurants and wreaking havoc in Avalon Harbor. If you’re here when one happens, plan to be amazed – just don’t plan on taking the Catalina ferry back home as they are usually cancelled when the seas get too high.

Rainstorms. With only about 12-14 inches of annual rainfall, rain is not a common occurrence on Catalina. When it does happen, grab your umbrella and take a walk along the waterfront, curl up with a good book or sip a glass of wine while enjoying the patter of raindrops.

Crystal clear vistas: Winter seems to bring a lot more clarity to the Southern California atmosphere. On a clear day, snow in the Southern California mountains is visible from the island. Looking across 26 miles of ocean to the snow-capped peaks is a view not to be missed.

That mild weather. Catalina’s weather can seldom be described as anything other than mild. Snow is so rare as to be practically non-existent and the temperatures almost never drop below the mid-40s. Winter days frequently are in the mid-70s – a great respite for those use to more extreme winter weather.

Spring renewal. Even though rain is rare, most years Catalina Island gets enough to transform it. Brown hills become a verdant sea of emerald and wildflowers in a riot of colors erupt in scattered clusters. For visitors used to Catalina’s usual muted tones of brown and yellow, the transformation can be startling, but the beauty of early spring is undeniable.

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