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Climate of the Kern River Valley

The climate in the Kern River Valley is generally described as a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cold wet winters with occasional summer thunderstorms from desert monsoons. Observed temperature extremes at Isabella Dam are a high of 115°F to a low of 11°F. December through February are variable but generally have short periods of heavy frost overnight with average lows recorded at the North Fork Kern pumping station between 30.5ºF and 31.5ºF during December and January respectively. July and August are the hottest months of the year with daytime temperatures frequently exceeding 100ºF. The 30-year average high in July is 96.8ºF.

About 90 percent of the runoff-producing precipitation occurs between the months of November through April. Annual precipitation averages 13.24” but that number is deceptive as frequent droughts punctuated by occasional El Niño years deliver large amounts of rain which skews the average annual rainfall upward from most years. The South Fork Valley is slightly drier than the North Fork Valley (Kernville) due to the rain shadow effect of the Kern Plateau. Typically, precipitation falls as rain at elevations below about 5,000 feet and as snow at higher elevations. Snow falls an average of once a season on the valley floor although measurable snow is rare. Snowpack accumulates during the winter months in the higher elevations of the Southern Sierra Nevada. Peak snowpack in the South Fork watershed occurs in April each year and peak runoff generally occurs between mid-April and mid-May. Summer thunderstorms are common in the surrounding mountains and occasionally reach the valley floor.


Mammals    Birds     Reptiles     Amphibians      Fish     Butterflies     Dragonflies     Grasshoppers    Insects including spiders

Since 1905 Audubon has been protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

About Audubon Kern River Preserve

The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of California’s largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.

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This site was created on October 21, 1998. Please Email to make comments or offer suggestions.