I have lived in San Francisco now for about 5 years. For 10 months of that, I lived in the East Bay in the sometimes significantly warmer Berkeley, and have lived in various parts of San Francisco including the Inner Sunset, Outer Sunset, Alamo Square and a short stint in the Mission.
I am also a part of a website called Postcrossing. (It is amazing, I get and send postcards all over the world and have a wonderful time learning about other people’s way of life. )
9 times out of 10 when I receive a card, someone mentions something about ‘staying cool’ or ‘what lovely weather you must have in California!’
Yeah, if I was in LA or San Diego Maybe. But its July and I’m cold.
Northern California – specifically San Francisco has a climate very much unlike the climate of what everyone assumes the climate of all California is -warm and sunny always. Beach bonfires. Ladies in Bikinis. VENICE BEACH! Well those who don’t know anything about the climate of Northern California – I shouldn’t assume.
THIS is California:
But what they don’t realize is that there is a huge difference between Southern CA (seen above) and Northern California – especially when it comes to climate.
San Francisco is very unique in that we have many many Microclimates and even submicroclimates and essentially our year is backward.
So I’m going to get a few things straight.
If it is Late May – Late/Mid August – tell me to bundle up.
Mid August/Early September through early November? – tell me to stay cool!
December – April? – Tell me to stay dry! and warm!
Like I said, the weather is backward. While the rest of the country has a pretty standard climate, things in San Francisco are San Francisco Standard.
January – April-ish = Historically we, though over the last few years, in case you didn’t know, we’re in a major drought. This year, thankfully, was an El Nino year. It rained! It rained so much! But a lot of rain here is like nothing elsewhere. Between June 2015 and June 2016, we had a whopping 72 days of rain -most of which were in December, January, and March! That is so much rain! Well it isn’t… but it is! From all of those rain days, we only received 23.17 inches of rain. I used this chart. It was also cold. Cold and Rainy.
[As a side note, I grew up in Northwestern PA where summers were just weeks of straight downpours. San Francisco rarely has a day of downpour. usually its a somewhat steady rain for a few hours and then its done]
[Another side note. When I say cold, it does get into the upper 30s F at night in the winter and even in the summer it can still go down to the upper 40s (last night the low was 48). But the highs can be in the upper 40s in the winter and 60s in the ‘summer’. 60 in SF is colder than 60 elsewhere. There is wind and a bone chilling cold in the air. We’ve had friends leave their 60 degree weather in Boulder in a T-shirt and pants and arrive in SF’s 60 degree weather and need a coat. It’s weird. I don’t get it, but its true.
We’re still in this massive drought.
So staying dry, never an issue. It is ridiculously dry here.
May – mid August-ish = Winter. Late June, we had a 9:30 PM softball game out by the Golden Gate Bridge. My outfit: Thick work out pants (which weren’t thick enough), a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, coat, a hat and gloves.
You might just be saying that I lost my ability to handle cold weather. And while that might partially be true, it was also just plain cold. And the wind. Oh the wind.
Wind is an essential part of SF summer.23-25 mph winds are normal. Sometimes it gusts to 30-35. Sometimes we get a reprieve and it is only 15-20 mph. And the wind itself is cold. It is whipping off of the ocean full of water that flows straight from the arctic area!
Here is a screenshot of the morning temperatures using the SF Climate app from last week:
Late August – Mid November (usually) = Summer time! This is the time where we get our warm days. Usually mid to upper 70s to mid 80s. When I first moved here we had few 85+ days but since then they have become more prevalent and so have 90+ degree days. Though it still cools off quickly after around 3pm.
This is the most wonderful time to visit San Francisco. Before the rain falls (hopefully) and after the summer chill has burned away and the fog hangs out elsewhere.
Not all of SF is frigid in the summer. Because of the many microclimates, the temperature can change from neighborhood to neighborhood. For example, I live in Alamo Square. It is a central neighborhood in SF and when I left my house last Friday, it was warm. I could walk outside with a t-shirt and pants and be comfortable. But when I got off the bus near my job – 3 miles toward the ocean in the inner sunset, it was 12 degrees cooler, foggy, and windy. I didn’t take a heavy enough sweater. Great neighborhoods to thaw out are the Mission, Noe Valley, Potrero Hill, and SOMA.
Again, around 3-5pm this changes and the fog and wind really move in and cover the rest of San Francisco with its chilly blanket.
The SF Chronicle actually wrote a good article on the microclimates (and why we have them) of the San Francisco Bay Area – definitely read it. It’s important.
Also the fog is named Karl.
Seriously. I don’t.
Only by looking at a calendar or the date on my computer, can I tell what time of year it is.
When I get text messages from friends who are telling me about how hot it is outside, I get confused.
San Francisco, what are you doing to me!
I haven’t written about my impressions of San Francisco in a while. I haven’t really talked about what I love about this city. I’ve been here for almost 8 months. I will have lived here for 8 months on June 11, 2012. Wow. I know that when I visited last year, I wrote a post comparing SF to DC. It’s called City Vibes. Go read it. There are pictures.
I remember at 8 months in DC, I was ready to head for the hills screaming like one of the crazies here in SF. Apparently no one here calls it San Fran. They call it either San Francisco or SF. Add that to the list of things that I’ve picked up along with ‘Right On’.
Back to the temperature, though. That is the main thing that I’ve noticed. The weather. Again, I literally have no idea what time of year it is. My friend told me it was
wicked hella hot in Pittsburgh yesterday – mid to upper 80s with loads of humidity. I was confused. “Wow they must be going through a warm spell.” No, Mattie. No. It’s almost JUNE. That is NORMAL weather for the summer. You, my dear, live somewhere with abnormal summer weather. Oh look! It’s going to be 70 on Thursday. I’m just so confused. Its very hard to believe that it is June. Apparently July is worse!
Don’t get me wrong, we do have warm days. Last week it was almost 70 on Saturday and Sunday. I did one of my favorite things to do, which is sit in Dolores Park drawing and painting. Beautiful view of the city and you meet such wonderful people. Great place for people watching, too. Lets be honest, that is really all I do.
People in San Francisco are a strange breed. I love that about this city. Everywhere people are making music or dancing or performing with some sort of item like poi or hoops. Tight rope walkers string ropes between trees. Painters break out easels and create. String quartets set themselves up in Muni stations. I love that in SF, you don’t have to have a permit to perform for cash in Muni and BART stations. If you want to make some quick cash and have musical talent of any kind, just pop yourself down for a few hours in a Muni station and get your groove on. In the neat future, I’m hoping to bust out my clarinet for some extra cash!
Hardly anyone I know here works a 9-5 job and that is something else that I love. Everyone doesn’t trudge to work from 9-5 and then head to a happy hour. I mean, yes, that does happen, but most of my friends work weird hours. They have random jobs and side jobs and I love it. Its refreshing! Soon I hope to have a random job. Its a good experience to get a good story or meet other people – these non typical jobs. Sure, it makes it harder to get together with someone, but at the same time, it is very liberating.
It is a wonderful city to create in. Everyone is positive. Everyone encourages artistic freedom be it through performance art, music, or the fine arts. No one says ” that’s not good enough” or “I’ve seen better”. I’ve done more art here in the last month than I did in the 10 months I lived in DC. The city, itself, is full of inspiration.
I was walking through a section of the city that I’ve never seen before about a month and a half ago. I could wander for hours here. Every street is a work of art. The houses are colorful. There are beautiful flowers everywhere. Every hill you climb leads to an astounding view of the city. The parks! I desperately need a new camera. I think I’ll save up the clarinet money for a new camera. That will be good motivation to get out there and play! I guess I should practice.
There are so many things I want to do. So many things I want to get involved with. I found a great group of people to play soccer with on Thursday nights. One thing down, several more to go! Hopefully I can add sailing and rock climbing to this list of things I’m keeping occupied with. SF is full of free or super cheap things to do, great deals on happy hours ($10 for TWO people for beer from 5pm-8pm!!), and great concerts and performances all the time.
The best part? People are genuinely interested in you. Not what you do, not who you know in terms of how you can help them network, but you, yourself. What you like, what you don’t like. What you like to do. What you’re hobbies are. What you’re views on the world are. What you views on life are. What you’re thinking. What you’re dreaming. Just you. They want to know you. For the most part anywhere, doesn’t mean there aren’t suits out there. (FYI, Suits are my generic term for people who wear suits every day and don’t have a social life for anything but suit things aka work and happy hour and fancy cocktail bars/wine bars/lounges. It’s not meant to be offensive nor is it meant to say that people who DO work suit jobs don’t have sweet social lives involving more than getting wasted every day at 5pm).
I’m not ready to leave, not even close. Hopefully I will be here for another year at least. Maybe not in this exact house, but in the bay area, definitely. New friendship are blossoming, creativity is flowing, now I just need to find a new, sweet job or at least figure out what I want to do and get the ball rolling!
Dear people that tell me “its not that hot”,
There are many of you. MANY of you. I love you all so dearly. Well not all of you. Some of you I guess. B$, you know you’re my sugar tits. No, I don’t love women.
Getting to the point.
I know that today, compared to some of the summer days that I endured in DC, is not that hot in comparison. Its a nice 76 degrees with 66% humidity (weather.com told me). I’m going to be completely and utterly honest with you; I’m a baby when it comes to hot weather. Yes. A baby. A wuss. Because I never said this blog was PG, I will say it now, I’m a pussy when it comes to weather/high temperatures.
Well what is hot, you ask?
To me? Anything above 65, ESPECIALLY when humidity is involved. Lets be real. The other day when it was 45, I walked outside in a long sleeve shirt and a light sweater. After about 5 steps, the sweater came off and I was sweating. I’ve been known to walk around in 40 degree weather in t-shirts. I suppose it’s unladylike. Girls are always cold. Not this girl. She is always roasting.
Significant others and snuggle buddies have told me that I’m a space heater. I sleep with windows open when its below 50. I LOVE SNOW. I will roll around in it. If it is above 20 degrees, I usually ski in a hoodie.
So people, I know that to you it may not be that hot outside at 76, but to me, its like I’m back in the Sahara desert. The humidity does not help at all. I’m happy in my 40’s-60’s. With 0%-30% humidity.
I’m a baby when it gets hotter than that. I get grump and sweat a lot. I get sick easily when doing physical activity in temperature over 80.
Those temperatures are reserved for a beach vacation when I can jump in a cold ocean…or for a Mediterranean vacation when I can walk around and just jump into the sea when I feel like it. Not for every day walking to and from work and every day chillaxin.
Unless you bring me a kiddie pool.
OK. I’m done.
(ORIGINAL POST DATE: January 5, 2011)
DC gets an unusual amount of sun for me. I can’t really remember the last overcast day. I think it was a few weeks ago. I am creeped out by this.
When it’s sunny all of the time, I feel like I need to be doing something. This is probably stemming from the fact that I grew up in a town that rarely had sunny days and when we did, it was a yard work or outside activity day. So sitting inside after work and reading or watching TV or working out inside when it is constantly sunny outside makes me feel like a bad person. I mean, it’s not warm out, so it’s not like I want to spend loads of time outside. I just feel like I need to be.
There is something about rainy days. They have this special feeling about them that I really enjoy. I love the sound of rain. It’s cleansing. I like how green everything is after it rains. It’s beautiful. Everything looks healthy. I miss snow too. I am used to having 3-5 months of snow, if not more. It doesn’t even feel like winter here. I mean, yes, it is cold. But it’s sunny every day. I’m not a fan of that weather. It’s not enough winter for me.
UPDATE: California weather has me very confused with my yearly time-line. I feel like I’m in this constant state of fluctuation between March/April and September/October. What is happening?! Why does it feel like spring when the leaves are just changing and the calendar says January! WHY!