Sea surface temperature (SST) is not the only oceanic parameter that can play a key role in the interannual variability of Northeast Pacific hurricane activity. Using several observational data sets and the statistical technique of multiple linear regression analysis, we show that, along with SST, the thermocline depth (TD) plays an important role in hurricane activity at interannual timescales in this basin. Based on the parameter that dominates, the ocean basin can be divided into two sub-regions. In the Southern sub-region, which includes the hurricane main development area, interannual variability of the upper-ocean heat content (OHC) is primarily controlled by TD variations. Consequently, the interannual variability in the hurricane power dissipation index (PDI), which is a measure of the intensity of hurricane activity, is driven by that of the TD. On the other hand, in the Northern sub-region, SST exerts the major control over the OHC variability and, in turn, the PDI. Our study suggests that both SST and TD have a significant influence on the Northeast Pacific hurricane activity at interannual timescales and that their respective roles are more clearly delineated when sub-regions along an approximate north–south demarcation are considered rather than the basin as a whole.