EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Storm | Baghdad By The Bay

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#Stormaggedon

Lightning Storm - Golden Gate BridgeOK, we got wet. We got real wet, but everyone is making fun of us about it now. Some are calling it the storm that wasn’t, but I think we handled it pretty well.

San Francisco got 3.5″ of rain [some places like the Sunset District actually got 4″]. That’s a lot of water and it was the 11th wettest day in SF history. It just didn’t seem like it because it was something San Francisco rarely gets — warm rain. When it rains in San Francisco there’s usually lots of big huge cold drops that chill you to the bone. This was a lot of small rain drops that constantly kept coming with no let up. People focused on the rain, but that wasn’t what they needed to focus on.

Wind was a bit of a problem and the lack of proper drainage caused the real problems. San Francisco was ready for the most part though. STAY HOME. Was the phrase of the day and people listened. That was even easier when most of the power was out east of Stanyan Street and North of Market. Nobody had much reason to go into work if there was no power. Lots of my friends where told not to bother going into work because there was no power so that stopped a lot of problems from happening. There was less traffic on the roads so there were less crashes even though there were quite a few car drownings outside of SF, mostly in the East Bay and down on the Peninsula.

These were in large part why we didn’t have many problems. We were prepared. They compared it to the last big storm in 2008. It wasn’t quite that bad and I actually had to drive to work in Burlingame that day and the wind was so bad that I got blown off the road when a big rig that was next to me sped up and the wind it was blocking suddenly whipped around and hit my car causing me to fishtail off to the side of the road. The puddles were bad from the flooding because they were big and muddy and when a car next to you hits one your windshield suddenly becomes a wall. If you’re traveling at 60mph this can be kind of scary, but most people weren’t out driving.

Power outages are something that we have to deal with from time to time so I think most of us were prepared. I was lucky in that we stayed connected the whole time. For the most part, San Francisco fared pretty well.

432819_1280x720On the other hand apparently people in the East Bay and Peninsula weren’t used to having to deal with lots of rain and the biggest problem was the sewer systems couldn’t handle it. There were lots of flooding in the normal places like freeway underpasses, but there were also some flat areas that from pictures looked a lot like New Orleans after the levees broke during Katrina. Hopefully those areas will think about that now and clean out their sewer lines before the next storms come through which should be happening soon. San Francisco needs to think about this as well. I noticed there were several sewer crews out after the storm unsealing sewer lines that were plugged that probably wouldn’t have happened if they had taken care of it before the storm.

On the upside, all of California got really wet and contrary to what some people have been saying, yes, this did make a dent in the drought. More rain is coming and that will make things much better. Northern California got the most rain with some places getting over a foot of rain in one day. We’ll still need quite a few good soakings to help fill up the reservoirs where waters had dropped severely over the past few years and we aren’t out of the darkness yet, but it is getting better. Oddly enough, this was something I was saying several months ago about El Niño. Yeah, I pretty much predicted that one accurately. December and January were always our coldest and wettest months of the year. El Niño just made them warm and wetter. Expect to see more heavy rains, probably not quite as big as the last storm, but overall this will help California and the drought quite a bit.

Just a last note, you all know how much I love to put photos in with my articles, but for some reason I’ve run into a little problem I need to fix that’s not allowing me to post photos at the moment. This is not fun as I collected lots of storm porn photos to share with you.

El Niño Is Coming

topex_pacific_2003097_lrgHave you been enjoying our warm weather lately? I sure have. I just recently put on jeans for the first time in over 3 weeks. I’m not sure if I’ve ever worn shorts for that long in my entire life in San Francisco. It’s a sign — El Niño is coming.

I predicted this last year. Summer last year was freezing and I also don’t think I had heard more people misquoting Mark Twain talking about The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. It was cold alright, but when our San Francisco Indian Summer kicked in it became kind of magical here. The problem was that usually around late November it starts to get cold — it didn’t. It was a bit on the cool side, but nothing near what it should have been. As time went on we had more warm weather with a freak downpour in February that lasted about 15 minutes after which I was seeing steam coming off the ground in the Sunset District.

It was then I knew that I was right and El Niño would be coming. NOAA has been saying we’ll have one, but it won’t be huge. I’m predicting it will be a pretty big one. We had a big one in 1999 which means only about five people were here to experience it. Let me tell you what it was like…

Expect rain, lots of rain. It’ll be different than the usual rain in that it will be more like it’s raining in Hawaii. It will be like someone turned a firehose on San Francisco for 15-20 minutes and then it will stop. The rain will be so heavy that when it stops if you are driving that you will have to drive through a temporary river that takes another 10 minutes to flow away. It will then be sunny and warm again. The general weather will change from overcast to sunny all throughout the day with weird downpours every now and then. The weirdest part of the rain is that it’ll come from smaller clouds that won’t be blocking out the sun so you’ll get a fierce downpour combined with sun which can look like diamonds falling from the sky. In 1999 it was so bizarre that on New Years Eve I was sitting out in front of my house BBQ’ing Ostrich steaks [I had money back then].

Rain is good. California needs it badly. It will help our drought problem, but it won’t make it go away. California is one of the largest agricultural providers in the entire United States so any water we can get we’ll take. You have to keep in mind though that will lots of sudden rain there will be problems — like land slides.

If you live in Marin or on the Peninsula expect to encounter the hills flowing into your backyards. I remember reading about lots of people losing their homes last time the big El Niño hit us. If you have even a little bit of survivalist in you I’d stock up now just in case. If you’re in San Francisco expect to see the storm drains overflowing to the point that you’ll see a few manhole covers rising up from water pushing its way out. If you’re living in the eastern part of the city where you might have a lower apartment, get sandbags. You’ll be flooded. If there’s any drainage system in place make sure it works because it will be overloaded.

El Niño is a weird phenomenon that hits us about every 5 years where the water temperature in the ocean rises considerably. The warmer it gets the worse El Niño is for us. I remember in 1999 a friend of mine who was a scuba diver bought a dry suit to keep him warmer during his dives and he ended up never putting it on once that year. San Francisco will become a little more tropical for a few months so the best thing I can say is to enjoy it and hope that it’s big enough to put a dent in our drought.

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“We’re Not Prepared For This Weather…”

 

It's Nice Today...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.

Winter In San Francisco

It looks like winter has finally arrived in San Francisco. Winter here is different that in other parts of the country. We don’t get snow [well maybe every 30 years we get an inch], we don’t get ice, we don’t get below zero temperatures, but for some reason you are freezing when it’s 60° outside. It’s a different kind of cold. It’s a very wet cold that soak through to the bone and there are a few things you have to keep in mind.

If you have a fireplace check to see if you can close the flu. I have to do that today because even though we have our fireplace blocked off with our daughter’s toys I was still gettiing hit by 50-60 mph wind gusts blowing down the chimney and around the boxy toys blocking the fireplace. Make sure the windows are closed because cold air will blow in and if have your heater on it’s just sucking the heat out the window. If you have gas heating, use it. It’s cheap compared to electric space heaters and will keep your PG&E costs down. It will also warm the whole house and not just a room. Don’t use your fireplace, especially if you’ve closed the flue as it will heat only the one room and might flow over a bit to a closer room. Things like this will make your home life more comfortable. It’s also more eco-friendly not to use your fireplace.

When you have to leave your house, always bring a small umbrella. It might be clear when you leave, but an hour into it you’ll be hit by a downpour. You’ll also have to make sure you wear layers just the rest of the year, but it’ll be time to pull out the sweaters and other long sleeve shirts. Think of how the people dress on the TV shows in New York. You’ll want that. You might sweat a bit on your way in, but trust me, you’ll be warm.

If you’re one of the lucky few that gets to drive into work you’ve got another thing to deal with and that is the manhole covers on hills. I haven’t been out today, but I’m sure with the rain that’s been coming down that we have a few manhole covers being lifted up by too much water and flooding the streets as it rolls down the hill. You won’t need to sandbag your house if you live in an area like this unless it’s a heavy downpour and you live in the downward corner houses. The streets are also not very even so you’ll get puddle build up especially near corner drains that get blocked with pine needles and leaves being blown off the trees. I would suggest you keep to the middle lanes when driving. I remember a horrible experience I had when driving in San Rafael one winter where I was driving and underpass and saw a line of water all the way across and thought to myself…PUDDLE JUMPING TIME! Turns out as I speed up the water was over three feet deep and spewed everywhere soaking my engine and stalling out my car. Luckily I had time to get off to the side, but this was before cell phones so I just put on my blinkers and luckily a tow truck came by and took my AAA card and helped me out.

Another thing you’ll need to think about is power outages. Even in San Francisco where it gets wet and windy, but not as bad as the North Bay we get power outages. If it happens after you go to bed then your alarm doesn’t go off and you’re late for work. You’ll get up and have no power to cook yourself breakfast unless you’ve got a gas stove [we don’t]. It helps to have one of those butane burners on hand if the powers out for awhile. Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer very often to make sure you keep things cold. The frozen stuff will stay frozen for a day or so, but your refrigerator might get warm because it’s used more often within 12 hours. It’s also nice to have an old style oil burning lamp. I have my grandmothers for when we’re sitting in a room together, but we also have several rechargeable very bright lights that will last for 12 hours we can carry around with us. It’s kind of interesting showering and shaving in the dark with nothing but a bright LED light to brighten the room. We also have a gas grill outside that we can cook on if it’s not a downpour. If it is we should think about getting an awning to cover it.

If you need to kill time hopefully your iPhone/iPad/Tablet/SmartPhone has 3G or 4G that can pick up a connection. I learned how to turn my iPhone into an alarm clock with out it buzzing with every email or tweet I get. Just be careful that you don’t overuse your time or you’ll have to pay big time. I always kind of liked the quite during a power outage. It just makes me feel like I’m not being attacked by electrical energy from all the devices in the house. The power outages only last about four hours, usually less unless it’s an earthquake then it could be 12 hours without power. I have some friends who own a Victorian they restored to its original form so if they get a power outage they light the gas ceiling lamps and are fine. Most of their appliances are gas powered which saves them money and keeps them going during a blackout. Just a little something to think about.

Yes, winter is the magical time of Christmas, but there’s nothing magical about living in a freezing house or working in a freezing office. I do like coming home from work and opening the door and feeling heat hit my face. To me that’s the magical part of winter for me.

Weather In A San Francisco Summer

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.

Autism vs. The iPad: Part II

As you read before we had a little mishap with the iPad and it was replaced for free by Apple. The day it was replaced we searched for a case that would keep it protected no matter want and we decided on the Survivor by Griffin Technology. I watched their video of their case with the iPhone and searched for reviews and figured that if the case was considered military grade in the US and UK it could hold up to a moderately autistic child.

Well I was right and I’m glad now. In the three days it took to get the case we’ve been keeping a watchful eye on our little spud to make sure she didn’t throw it or bash it again. Well, it turns out that our over protectiveness only encouraged her to do so. Nothing really terrible, but if we moved toward her in a preemptive strike to keep her from damaging it she knew and would try and toss it.

Luckily we have quick hands and got it before any damage occurred. Now about the case. It’s really good. It’s a polycarbonate housing that’s strong and I liked it because it took me awhile to get it apart so her getting it out of the case will be difficult. The polycarbonate case is covered with a silicon/teflon outer soft cover with flaps covering all of the access ports. This would be great in the sands of Iraq, but what I liked most is that it muted the sound a bit which our daughter like to turn up full blast. This isn’t a problem when you hold it in your hands, but when it’s flat on a table the sound ricochets off the table and is amplified by about 30db making it very loud and annoying whenever there’s an elmo video playing.

Watch the video below. It’s a great case and I found it online for $39.95. It’s a bit thicker than the iPad or iPhone, but it’s worth it for the practically hermetic seal it gives to the iPad. While for some people $499 isn’t too high a price to have to replace, if you have a young kid you’ll want a strong case to protect it so that you can keep your iPad for as long as possible.

[Ad#Adbrite]

Tsunami’s vs. San Francisco

I was watching tv last night and the topics of tsunami’s came up again as it has frequently since the Japanese earthquake/tsunami. We in San Francisco have it pretty good if we’re hit by a tsunami and let me tell you why.

First we’re pretty hilly on the coast. Our natural seawall at the beach is about 20 ft. high. That means that the tsunami that hit Japan would possibly leave a few puddles if there was enough force to push it up and over the sea wall. For the most part it would swirl around into the bay weakening its force and the SOMA area with it’s 10 ft high piers would get the worse of it which still wouldn’t be much.

My house is roughly 213 ft above sea level so we would need a huge tsunami wave to cause any damage to our house from a wave hitting the coast. The worst problem we might have is from the storm drains overflowing. There have been times of high rain that the storm drains can’t handle the amount of water so the you’ll see man hole covers lifted up under the pressure and water pouring out and down the streets. Since the water can’t go back into the drains you will literally get  rivers of water flowing downhill to the beach where it collects at the sand dunes without enough power to flow over and even then there might only be a few inches gathered.

The photo included with this post is all CGI and since it exists in someone’s photoshop mind and has yet to be documented we don’t have much to worry about. A tsunami in San Francisco would come from our storm drains before it would come from the sea. Alameda on the other hand, beware.