We analyzed 21 years of sea-surface temperature satellite images to explore the spatial signature of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation signal in the Gulf of California. We used empirical orthogonal function analysis to extract the principal mode of the nonseasonal sea-surface temperature variability and compared it to the spatial signature of the Southern Oscillation Index. The first mode accounted for 80% of nonseasonal variability and its amplitude time series was significantly correlated to the Southern Oscillation Index (r = −0.58,P < 0.01). The amplitude of this mode and its statistical relation to the El Niño is stronger during winter, which suggests that forcing of sea-surface temperature variability occurs through the disruption of the wind-driven upwelling corridor along the eastern coast due to El Niño-related atmospheric teleconnections. We also examined weekly time series of coastal sea-surface temperature coastal anomalies along the coast of North America, including the interior of the Gulf of California, during the strong 1997–98 El Niño. We found a poleward propagating signal that reached the mouth of the Gulf of California at the end of spring and continued its poleward propagation along the west coast of the peninsula slightly delayed; it also resulted in warming inside the Gulf of California. This observation may provide an explanation for the variable extension of the El Niño signature along the Pacific coast of North America.