The climate of California may be divided into three seasons. The rainy or wet season, the season of the dews, and the dry season, in which neither rain nor dew falls. The rainy season commences about the first of December and terminates about the 15th of April. The second season embraces that part of the year when the evaporation is greatest, and the moisture of the earth is converted into dews : this season lasts from one month to six weeks. The dry season includes the summer months, and continues until the rain sets in. California contains as many different changes of climate as can be found south of latitude 42 N. to 23 S. latitude, owing to the present division of seasons, the atmosphere is divided into two kinds, wet and dry. It may be said, however, that the coast wind is more or less humid at all seasons ot the year. St. Francisco is exposed during the summer months to damp and chilly winds, whilst the winter brings a mild and wholesome season, with a balmy atmosphere. The interior does not suffer from this influence. The humid atmosphere occupies that part of the year m which the rains predominate, and the season of the dews. The winds generally prevail during the summer S. S. E. in the interior,and on the coast the prevailing sea breezes constitute the chiet winds. The climate, like other countries, may, in process of time, become more genial to agricultural pursuits, and the health of those who have or may hereafter make this State the home of their adoption. Historical facts support this position. The climates of European countries were more severe in ancient times than they are at present. CfEsar informs us that the vine could not be cultivated in Gaul on account of the cold winter. The reindeer now found in the zone ot Lapland once inhabited the Pyrenees; the Tiber was frozen over and the country surrounding Rome was covered with snow several weeks together, wnich rarely happens in our time. The Rhine and Danube, in the reign of Augustus, were generally frozen over for several months of the year. The improvement which is continually being made in the climate of America proves that the power of man extends to phenomena, which, from the magnitude and variety of their causes, seem entirely beyond his control. At Guiana, in South America, within five degrees of the line, the inhabitants living amid immense forests a century ago, were obliged to alleviate the severity of the cold by evening fires, even the duration of the rainy season has been shortened by the clearing of the country, and the warmth is so increased that tires now would be deemed an inconvenience. "It thunders continually in the woods, but rarely in the cultivated parts." It is probable that in the course of time, and after the settlement of the country, the habitable portions of California may become, in its seasons, more regular and better adapted to agricultural and other pursuits. Should such changes take place as history records to Italy, then indeed is California a favored land. Yet drainage of the dround and the removal of forests cannot be recorded among the causes of increased warmth ol the Italian winter. The elevation of the highest peaks of the Sierras is about 17,000 feet above the level of the sea; Pleasant or Red Lake about 9,000 teet; Pleasant Valley 3,864 feet, and is the nearest habitable place to the mountains. Their mean elevation above the sea will range from 1,000 to 1,700 feet; the mean temperature of the atmosphere, from the best calculations, being about 72. Fahr. The fogs in autumn,on the coast, are checked in their advance to the interior of the coast range, thus leaving the dry atmosphere free from these additions. It is a fact worthy of notice in this connection, as well as to establish the positive purity of the atmosphere in the interior, that its effectduring night, as well as in the day, upon the human body, invigorates the system, and is so refreshing that persons prefer sleeping in the open air, without other covering than the broad canopy of heaven. It may be said with certainty, that neither homo, nor idio, nor vegetable, nor animal miasmata exist to any extent that would create disease, and on the whole it roay be considered a healthy climate, particularly in those sections where there exists a uniform evenness in the atmosphere. It may be regarded as more pleasant and agreeable than the climate of any other part of the United States. The above is a condensed statement from an article in the " Western Journal," by Geo. M. Willing, M. D. ; we seldom see an article upon this subject upon which we can depend for truthfulness; almost as many ideas exist as there are inhabitants in the new State. The above is probably for the most part correct.
This article was originally published with the title "Climate at California" in Scientific American 8, 41, 328 (June 1853)