Posts Tagged 'fog'
It seems like every year I hear the same thing from places all over the Bay Area, We’re not prepared for this weather! It’s summer. It gets hot. Be Prepared. OK, maybe in San Francisco that isn’t completely true except for this year where we’ve been hit by warmer than average temperatures for this time of year, but it’s the same type of heat we get in September so we got hit a few months early. It’s not like everyone puts their air conditioning in cold storage until September. Oh wait, San Franciscans don’t have air conditioning.
I’ll try and explain weather to all of you since it seems everyone forgets what it is every year around here. This could be due to all the newcomers that rotate in and out of the city every year, but summer in San Francisco isn’t supposed to be warm. It might be warm compared to Alaska [or Alturas which has got to be the coldest place in California], but it’s not what people expecting summer weather expect.
The reason it’s so odd is that [my apologies, I’m not a meteorologist] we get warm air over the water that hits the cold air over the land. The warm ocean air contains more moisture which condenses when it hits the cold land giving you…fog. Summer’s in San Francisco tend to be foggy around the coast with a few places like Potrero and the Mission where it burns off very quickly because they get the sun earlier in the day to warm the land and create a bit of equilibrium between the two.
For people who grew up here we have an old saying, You know you’re in San Francisco when you put on your heavy winter jacket to barbecue in July and make sure you’ve got a tank top on when you run out for a six pack in October.
San Francisco is kind of backwards weather wise and even then we don’t really have weather. It might get a few days into the freezing temperatures in December and January and we might get into the upper 90’s a couple of days in September and October. That’s pretty much the extremes we get. Snow is pretty much unheard of since 1976 and we don’t get tornados or hurricanes here either. We do get rain and hail, but our weather hasn’t gotten that message lately. We’ve been experiencing a rather dry year so far and while I can’t say that’s why it’s hot it’s just one of those things you should be prepared for.
Most San Franciscans already know to dress in layers so that shouldn’t be a problem and most people also carry water bottles so dehydration isn’t really a factor. Most of the companies that I’ve worked for also have air conditioning installed even though they hardly ever need it so the whole, we’re not prepared for this weather is kind of a joke to me.
We all have to go outside and even if you’ve been here only a couple of months you should know how to deal with the weather. If not then I suggest San Diego where the meteorologists are overpaid because every day is, nice.
I haven’t been getting out as much as I’d like lately, but that will be changing soon. Because I haven’t been getting out that much I’ve been pretty much restricted to the Sunset District where I live. It’s one of the largest districts in San Francisco that also includes the Parkside, but no one really knows or cares where the barriers are. It’s easy figuring out where the Sunset stops and Richmond starts because you’ve got this big divider called Golden Gate Park in between. Something I’ve notice recently in reading about how other people describe the Sunset district is that they don’t really know anything about it. I’m here to change that.
Apparently people who like to tell other people what the Sunset district is like tend not to be from the Sunset district or have usually only lived here for around 6 months [usually November to May]. Because of this they don’t get a good understanding of this part of San Francisco and it’s a shame because more people would love it if it wasn’t just a place they drove through on a hot day to go to the beach.
- It’s always foggy here. Well, we do have fog. Hell I’m almost certain that the twitter account @KarlTheFog was started here. The Sunset district has been known for it’s fog for years. The thing is that we have lots of fog compared to downtown, the Mission, Potrero Hill. It’s kind of like a friend who was here from San Diego on a foggy night and said, oh crap it’s raining. No, that’s called fog. That’s the way fog is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be thick and wet. People who say it’s foggy when they have to look up and see clouds in the sky don’t know what fog is. It’s also not like that all year round. Usually it starts in the mornings when you leave the house to go to work. Once you’ve gotten on the bus and are on your way up past 25th avenue then @KarlTheFog decides to take a nap and it clears up.
We actually have some sunny days out here as well. Actually we have a lot more since that whole global warming/climate change happened. June-August is when you run into the most fog, but it’s usually more overcast than fog. Wife and I took our daughter out to the zoo this morning and it was actually pretty sunny. I actually had to wear a hat and sunglasses. Summertime for the Sunset district and the rest of the city starts in late August where you’ve got sun almost every day and believe it or not it’s warm which leads me to…
- It’s always cold in the Sunset district. Not true. November to February is the worst and we might get a couple of mornings where the temperature is in the 30’s, but it’s usually in the upper 40’s during that time. Now that we’re into June and it’s warming up our lows are in the 50’s and we’ve been getting quite a few days where the highs are in the 70’s. Later on in the year during our summer you’ll definitely get weather in the 80’s & 90’s and if you’re invited over to someone’s house here who has a deck in back you’ll find in the afternoon that the concrete backing radiates the heat onto the deck and you’ll be experiencing quite a few days with heat that breaks 100°. The nice part is because we get the fog [real fog] people enjoy the sun more. Like I mentioned earlier on hot days people come out to the beach. Why would they come out to the beach if the weather is always in the 50’s like they say?
- We’re boring and uncool. This usually comes from people who aren’t from here. The them boring is a lack of a thriving night life or as I like to call it, gunfire and crime. San Francisco isn’t a place you go to and expect to live it up 24/7. As many people say we roll up the streets at 10pm, but that’s also because we tend to be more morning types out here because once the early morning fog burns off when we get it it’s actually a very nice place to walk around. We’re uncool because we don’t have hipsters. That’s fine with me if what you’re referring to are Mission St. Hipsters, but we’ve got lots of people in retro clothes sitting behind laptops at just about any coffee shop you walk by. One of the distinctive things people use to describe hipsters is the sort of retro shabby chic look which if you really want to find you need to come to the Sunset district. We’ve got places to shop here that have been here since WWII.
- There’s no cool places to eat. What? Do you mean eat or sit around and sip overpriced coffee and nosh on overpriced tidbits? We’ve got better burrito and taco shops than the Mission, better pizza than, well SF isn’t really known for pizza, but you’ll find a couple of the best places out here if you know where to look and the prices are less than most other parts of town. As you get out towards the beach on Judah, Noriega, Sloat and parts of Taraval you’ll find a thriving food scene that’s building up speed. We have all the fancy coffee you can drink in several places and you haven’t lived to be a real San Franciscan until you’ve done a proper pub crawl of dive bars out here that are hipper than the hipster dive bars [personal pick is the Riptide and Blackthorn]. If that’s not edgy enough for you how about a mobile BBQ joint that operates on a bicycle that you tweet for your food?
I could go on and on, but let me just say that if I was stuck here for six months I would be able to live comfortably without having to drive more than five minutes to find what I’m looking for. Oh yeah you can drive out here and even park. If more startups knew about how nice it was to be out here I’d only have to walk five minutes to work or could bike to work without having to worry about being run over by drivers.
I wrote about the makeover Great Highway was going to get a few months ago and I’m glad, in a way that it’s finally started. That being said, the beach is not the best place to go right now.
My wife [hear after known as wife because she doesn’t like public attention like I do] and I like to shop at the beach Safeway because it’s bigger and the lines are smaller. We took our once a week trip out there as opposed to our trips to the worst Safeway in San Francisco, but we were in for a rude awakening this day.
Construction workers were everywhere. The road was torn up all over the place and our usual trip of driving out Lincoln Way and making a right had to be re-routed due to the construction. On the upside, there are a lot of construction workers there so that means that the job will usually be quick. The down side is that it’s not a pleasant place to be right now which is a bit of a shame with the warm weather starting to grace our coastline and giving us sunnier days [side note: wife hates sunnier days. I think she was given up for adoption by a young Viking girl because the foggier and more unpleasant it is the happier she is.]
Right now if you need to cross the park down by the beach do it at 45th and Lincoln Way and drive through to 43rd and Fulton. It will be a much easier drive for you than having to go all the way to the end and then having to snake around the west end until you can find the exit at 47th and Fulton. Just give the workers some time to finish off the job they’ve started and I’m hoping it’ll become a nicer place.
All this being said, I am hoping that this makeover will bring back a little of the beach area we once had. You have to be a very stalwart type of person to love Ocean Beach, but there was no reason for it to be left as a Russian industrial park looking place. I would like to see some food trucks out here on weekends and it would be nice if there was a way to have some craftspeople to set up shop on the large walkway on the sunny days that we do get out here. The first thing that needs to happen is a good marketing game played by the city to make people want to come out here. It’s a great place to relax and watch the surfers if you’re not going to surf yourself.
I was tempted not to share this one because I do like to shop here even though it’s a drive from my house [3 miles isn’t much of a drive for most people outside SF], but I figured that young hipsters who don’t usually have cars and live in the Mission or Haight won’t bother going all the way out to this place. What place am I talking about? The Safeway at the beach. I honestly hate shopping on weekends and the closest Safeway to me is on Noriega and 30th which I hate because it’s always crowded even during the week and in the evening it’s not crowded, but understaffed. The Safeway at the beach isn’t anything like that.
It’s kind of a hidden mystery for many because it’s a large Safeway, one of the largest in the city and they put it out at ocean on top of what used to be Playland at the Beach. Because of the exposure to all the salt air and fog from the ocean the outside looks a little dumpy, but when you go inside it’s a different story. The typical crowd is a bit on the rough side. I don’t mean fights will break out, just that to most people tossing on a t-shirt over your pajamas and grabbing your flip-flops is considered well dressed to shop here. I suppose a small part of this is due to the few homeless people who hang out in front and the large number that live in Golden Gate Park who go there to buy their food and cheap booze. They’re pretty harmless, but to the uninformed they can look a little scary.
The best part is the aisles are large, very large and it tends to be a very well stocked Safeway, but like many others the staff is a little short in the evenings. There is a Wells Fargo branch at this location where you can get all your banking done even on Sundays [side note, if you’re a real San Franciscan you bank at Wells Fargo]. The deli and bakery are sufficient and a little better stocked than many others around town, but for the general groceries you can find stuff here that is hard to find in other places just because they have lots of room and need to fill it. The butchers are one of the few at Safeway’s that you can pull over and have them cut some meat up for you.
When you finish your shopping and go to check out the wait can be stupidly fast on weekends and it’s not unusual to find a few checkers just standing there talking to another checker waiting for someone to show up. When I used to live a bit closer we used to go here all the time, but now on weekends it’s just kind of refreshing to get some morning air and walk around a store where there aren’t thousands of people pushing you all over the place. It’s even better when it’s a sunny morning which contrary to popular belief we do get more frequently than people think.
Summer is here and it’s time for weird weather. San Francisco has four distinct microclimates, the fog belt [where I live], the banana belt [Mission area and everything East], Wind belt [downtown which is made possible by all the high rises funneling the air and the Marine Belt [just around the Golden Gate Bridge and extending down to the Embarcadero.
I had the chance to travel to the Potrero District [banana belt] this morning. I left the house to overcast foggy 55° weather and hopped in my car and started to drive East. Suddenly I noticed it starting to get brighter. I had to pull out my sunglasses and when I arrived out on Rhode Island street it was perfect blue skies and sunny. As I opened the door to my car I was hit by 73° according to my iPhone. That’s almost a 20° difference within a half hour’s drive.
There are even sub-microclimates, but for people who move to San Francisco they have to learn the city to understand it best. The first thing you need to learn is layers. In the Sunset District my Dad would go out in the backyard on weekends in the morning to work the garden. He’d have a tank top, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket on. As the day wore on the clothes would soon start to come off. Then around 3pm he’d have to start putting them all back on again.
While the Sunset has a bit of temperament about it’s weather, it’s not constantly foggy. We’re actually getting more sunny days than we used to, but I remember my brief stint living in the mission and I don’t think I owned a single long sleeved shirt unless it was for work downtown. Sure it will get overcast upon occasion in the Mission and Potrero, but you never see fog like you do in the outer Sunset and Richmond Districts. Now at least I know if I’m in need of some sun on a cold foggy day in San Francisco all I have to do is head East for a few miles.
I’ve decided that after living in San Francisco for a little over 49 years that I’ve chosen to select, Embrace The Fog as my new catch phrase. I’ll start signing emails with it partly because no one signs sincerely any more because that sounds insincere or best which always makes me thing best what? or the usual, regards…regarding what? Your best insincerity? But anyway, let’s get back to the fog.
San Francisco while not being the foggiest place on earth is certainly the best known [Labrador is the foggiest]. The fog is caused by warm moist air hitting colder drier air. When the temperature outside gets close to the temperature needed to get water to condense out of the air as a liquid [dewpoint] you get fog.
San Francisco is odd in that it gets three types of fog and I’ll go into explaining the three types without hopefully putting any of you to sleep the three types are radiation, advection and tule fog. Here we go:
- Radiation fog: is formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions with clear sky. The cool ground produces condensation in the nearby air by heat conduction. In perfect calm the fog layer can be less than a meter deep but turbulence can promote a thicker layer. Radiation fogs occur at night, and usually do not last long after sunrise. Radiation fog is common in autumn and early winter. This is what we see at night and in the morning that usually burns off. Tule fog is included in this, but it’s a little different.
- Advection fog: occurs when moist air passes over a cool surface by advection (wind) and is cooled. It is common as a warm front passes over an area with significant snowpack. It is most common at sea when tropical air encounters cooler waters, including areas of cold water upwelling, such as along the California coast. The advection of fog along the California coastline is propelled onto land by one of several processes. A cold front can push the marine layer coastward, an occurrence most typical in the spring or late fall. During the summer months, a low pressure trough produced by intense heating inland creates a strong pressure gradient, drawing in the dense marine layer. Also during the summer, strong high pressure aloft over the desert southwest, usually in connection with the summer monsoon, produces a south to southeasterly flow which can drive the offshore marine layer up the coastline; a phenomenon known as a “southerly surge”, typically following a coastal heat spell. However, if the monsoonal flow is sufficiently turbulent, it might instead break up the marine layer and any fog it may contain. Moderate turbulence will typically transform a fog bank, lifting it and breaking it up into shallow convective clouds called stratocumulus. This is the daytime fog that we get from time to time. It’s also when higher up the overcast cloud layer that we see so often in the Sunset and Richmond districts.
- Tule fog: is a radiation fog, which condenses when there is a high relative humidity [typically after a heavy rain], calm winds, and rapid cooling during the night. The nights are longer in the winter months, which creates rapid ground cooling, and thereby a pronounced temperature inversion at a low altitude. This is the nasty fog that it’s so thick you can sometimes not see your hand in front of your face. It’s the most dangerous type of fog to drive in as it can even obstruct car headlines and don’t even think that turn on your high beams will help as it only shines the light back into your face.
Now after reading this many of you will say, why embrace the fog then? Well, here’s the truth. Fog is actually good for you, or so many have said in the past. It was actually used as a selling point for homes in the Sunset District. It’s wet and not salty so it offers moisture to your skin. It’s also said to help people with respiratory problems. If you go to a place that’s hot and humid like say Hawaii, the heat makes you sweat and the high humidity keeps the water salty water on your skin which most people don’t like too much so they cool off with a beer which makes them sweat more causing them to actually feel worse.
Hot dry air is a different story. I made a trip many years ago to my cousin’s place in Arizona. Oddly enough I had never experienced near zero humidity weather before. To beat the heat we hit the pool and when I got out suddenly the nice wet water was sucked off my body into the dry air and I was freezing cold in 112° weather. It turns out when water evaporates quickly it sucks body heat away with it which explains how someone could be freezing in 112° weather. We’re talking like the feeling of waking up in a bathtub full of ice. It’s hard to breath as your body adjusts and people usually use some for of the phrase kill me after exiting a pool in a place like this.
We don’t have to deal with that in San Francisco. We have blankets of fog in many places unless you live in the SOMA, Bayview or Mission then you might see overcast more than fog. The term blanket of fog is actually a very good thing. Blankets keep you warm and the thick fog does hold the heat in a bit. This is why in a place like Las Vegas at night where the sand doesn’t absorb much heat the temperatures can drop pretty quickly. There’s nothing like a February morning in Las Vegas to make you scratch your head.
While we do have a couple of bad months in December and January and sometimes February where it gets wet and cold that’s not cold like people back East have to deal with. We don’t have snow [except for 1976]. We do get hail and mostly rain, but we rarely get temps that drop into the 30’s here. This is why I like the fog. It pretty much mediates any temperature extremes.
For a guy of 49 I have hardly any wrinkles starting to develop on my face and I breath pretty good. I’m beginning to believe the fog is therapeutic if for no other reason than on those few cloudless days when the West facing back of my house gets the direct attack from the sun. It is blinding and we have to close up the curtains and open up the windows because the back of our house was covered with concrete with slate shingles which love to soak up the heat and radiate it back into the house. Our heater is almost never used anymore because if we open blinds during the day our house can be 80°’s upstairs well into the evening.
Besides, if you’re a real San Franciscan the idea of falling asleep and hearing the fog horns off in the distance remind you that you’re home. So come on, join with me and embrace the fog. @KarlTheFog
, this article goes out to you.
An old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in probably close to 30 years, Ian Kallen contacted me a few months ago about an iPhone app he was working on called Blockboard. It’s a type of social networking app, but more micro-social networking that helps bring together people in your neighborhood. At the time they were focusing on the Mission District because that’s where they were started, but now they’ve expanded to cover all of San Francisco and are moving on to cover other cities.
What’s nice about the app is that it’s just more than a Howdy neighbor and then you get back to browsing the web or playing some game by Zynga. People in your neighborhood can actually post about things going on that could be anything from police reports, suspected illegal activities or local street fairs and meet up parties. I can honestly say that in all my time with twitter and Facebook I’ve hooked up with some old friends and we’ve talked about the old times, etc, but I’ve only met face to face with about maybe 20 of the close to 1000 people I’ve amassed between the two.
I’m going to start checking daily with blockboard now after I received an email from my twitter friend [who I’ve yet to meet] Bre Lambert of ScoutMob. She wrote to me to remind me that Blockboard is running a contest where five neighborhoods can win $5000 by getting 500 members to sign up. That money will go to fixing up things in the area, making improvements, etc. So now I’m making my pitch to get you to join up in the Sunset. Well, since I cover all of San Francisco you all should download the app and join up actually, but I’m always a little partial to the Sunset seeing as I live here.
Checking in this morning I also found there were coupon offers for local businesses in the area that you could take advantage of through blockboard. The app also appears to aggregate relevant blog postings and articles from the web about the neighborhoods of San Francisco. I was kind of surprised that many of my articles actually had links there that I didn’t have to share with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this article shows up there.
As I said before, I’m going to be paying more attention to this app as it looks like it has real promise for the districts of San Francisco and I hope you check it out because with your help you’ll help bring about some change within the city better than a bunch of people clogging up the Financial District chanting.
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