February 27, 2007

Cold in California?

Whenever I talk with people about my move to the west coast, the question inevitably arises ... "So, why did you move to California?" The first assumption is always work ... hmmmm ... hard to have a convincing argument there when my boss is 3000 miles out of state. But the next topic is invariably the great California weather. No matter how much I try to explain the complexities of my decision to pack up and head west, people always get stuck on the weather thing. No one dares verbalize such accusations, but the slight smile says it all ... "Yeah, you know you just went for the warmth and sunshine." Come on people! Am I so petty to base my life decisions on fine weather? ... Of course I am! Who wouldn't flee to paradise in the face of blistering cold east coast winters. Logging on to weather.com recently, I was moved to spontaneous "hallelujahs" upon seeing that Washington DC was only 20 degrees ... southern California was in the mid 80's.

Californian's do winter sports too.

Often those unacquainted with the subtleties of California weather make grandiose statements about how they could never live in a place without four seasons. If by "four seasons" you mean the potential to experience miserable weather, you can keep your four seasons. But what's the truth about SoCal weather? Is it really always perfect temperatures and cloudless skies? Absolutely ... it's just hard to tell sometimes through the smog. No, no ... the smog's really not that bad ... and the weather's not always what you would expect either. Clouds and fog frequently roll in off the ocean during parts of the year, and temperatures can cool off pretty quickly in the evenings with the absence of moisture in the atmosphere to trap in the heat. Visitors may be surprised to find that many houses and apartments contain heaters but no AC. And if you drive a few hours east to the valley, mountain, or desert areas, and you can sometimes see a 40 degree temperature swing. But in general, the weather stays pretty moderate year round, as can be seen by checking out average temperatures and precipitation in Long Beach. Californians have nothing to complain about ... or do they????

Click for Long Beach, California Forecast

Current Conditions: Long Beach

Ironically, Californians are notorious complainers when it comes to the weather. "It's so hot today" ... "It's so cold today" ... "It's so dry today" ... "I heard a thunder today" And as soon as you move here, you start to get sucked into the mindset. Once ... and I am not making this up ... a viewer called in to the local news station to report a "thunder" in Anaheim ... not a severe lightning crashing torrential downpour put-the-fear-of-God-in-you thunder storm, but a single clap of thunder. It is completely understandable if you think Californians are a bunch of pansies.

Is that a cloud in the sky?

Although the weather in Southern California is generally quite nice, there are some interesting phenomena that the casual observer should be aware of. They have special names like June Gloom, Santa Ana Winds, and the Marine Layer. To fit in with the locals, you should casually slide a few of these terms into your conversations ... and then whine about how cold it was last night. But after all of this, you will go out and see the tourists running around half naked and diving in the frigid Pacific waters, and then you realize that good weather is a relative concept.