I shot some video today that I suspect my friends in San Francisco would say, oh hell no!about living in New England in the winter. While it’s not that bad for me I can see why living here is not for the faint of heart.
We had weather yesterday that we got to wake up to 4° and now today it’s 50° and tomorrow it will be possible 60°. In my mind this is good because it will melt the snow which we might get 1″-4″ of snow two days from now. To be honest, stop reading this and click on the video because a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth, I don’t know a million?
We’re entering fall now here in Northampton and I get to wake up to temperatures around 28° that on a good day warm up to 60°. This is unlike San Francisco where the morning and afternoons are pretty much within 10° of each other.
Before I moved here I read what people didn’t like about San Francisco and oddly enough the New Yorkers always said that it was the change in temperature and after being here for six months I’m sort of…WTF?!?!
I’m adapting well, but it is a bit odd walking out to put my daughter on the school bus at 7:27am [on the nose every day] and it’s really cold compared to San Francisco, but not so bad because people understand how to heat and cool a house. I only need to be exposed to the external elements of hell for a less than a minute so I’m good. Later in the morning when I venture out we have a car which I can remotely start up and warm it up and melt the frost and ice off it and I even have built in ass warmer seats so the ride it quite comfortable compared to San Francisco on a cold day when you started your car in 48° weather and got in freezing your ass off because we don’t think about warming up the car from a distance because the gas tax in California makes it expensive to sit and let your car run without driving it, let alone all the pollution you’re putting into the air.
Well, my fair readers there are a few other things that I have learned after Labor Day that may perhaps shock you. There are changes that occur that those of you out west may be horrified by.
First off, my daughter likes a daily trip to a local chain called Friendly’s after school. She has a thing for bacon and we go there every day even though I feel I could make it just as well at home. The price jumped $4 after Labor Day and I asked and they said, Oh, that was our Summer promotion pricing. Apparently things are cheaper in the Spring and Summer other than Fall and Winter. In my mind you would want to make prices cheaper in Fall and Winter when it’s colder and a lot harder to get people to leave their nice warm homes than to give them a deal when it’s warmer and they’re going out of their house anyway. This isn’t just a Friendly’s thing as there are stores that the prices have increased as well. I suppose it could be because transport in the Winter is more costly because of snow, but I haven’t seen any snow yet…
There are seasonal businesses that shut down after Labor Day. Mostly these are the roadside shacks that sell ice cream or seafood that aren’t the warmest and don’t have an place to sit down inside. Luckily, I’m happy with my ice cream from a pint carton or one of the local restaurants to get my clam strips.
On the other hand, holidays are huge here. We have a lot of distance between homes here, but there are tons of people who have gone all out decorating their houses for Halloween and in talking to my neighbors there are a lot of kids who come knocking at your door. This is interesting to me since I suspect you’ll have to drive the kids or be a marathon runner to get more than a few bite sized bars, but we’ll see. I’m working myself up to take my daughter out. We’re a week away from Halloween, but now it’s hard to find anything to do with Halloween available in stores, so I guess they expected you to buy it all by now.
Yet, Christmas stuff is everywhere and this is a big area for Christmas. Not that Jesus born in a barn in the Middle East Christmas, but more of a Germanic/Americanized trees, ornaments, FOOD sort of thing. There’s way less religion here oddly enough.
Lucky for us we’re finishing up the remodel which was easily affordable here so if we’re stuck inside for a day or two it won’t be so bad. When it’s finished I’ll have a full video to post of it, but things are not so bad here considering all my friends from the Bay Area have been telling me, It’s looks really nice, but I couldn’t deal with Winter. Honestly, Winter doesn’t suck when your community is prepared for it. We’ll be inside and doing lots of cooking and watching lots of movies…
Speaking of movies, here’s one I made of a drive through my neighborhood that’s about five minutes away from downtown Northampton. It was 37° when I shot this video, but rather pleasant in the car…
Pardon me for putting on my Grandpa voice, but back in my day the idea of air conditioning in San Francisco was something nobody ever considered. Yes, most of the houses didn’t have insulation or double/triple pane windows so they were always a bit drafty. We did have hot weather, but as soon as it was gone everyone forgot we had hot weather and started talking about how foggy it was.
Things have change though. People did these things called upgrades to their house and when we get warm weather the houses can get hot. The San Francisco mindset is that you don’t need air conditioning here and for the amount of day we get really hot weather I tend to agree, but there are some simple ways to remedy the heat when the problem comes up [like now].
If you look at the picture I’ve included I found this on YouTube and in its various forms has been called a Redneck air conditioner, Ghetto air conditioner or homemade swamp cooler. If you have a fan then the rest of the parts should cost you about $5. All you need for the simple form I have here is a 5 gallon paint bucket with a lid. You cut a hole in the top where the fan is and drill out 3 holes in the sides [I choose 2 ?” holes because that was the diameter of the PVC scrap tubing I got was. Inside you can fill it up with ice from the local store or freeze gallon milk jugs with water and put them inside. My house even with the window’s open gets up to almost 90° in hot weather and this brought the room down to just below 70° in about 15 minutes.
I’ve also attached a video that shows the full instructions if you want to pimp out this home-made AC for few more bucks. If you want to beat the occasional heat that we get this is a much cheaper and easier way of doing it and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it. It’s not really a swamp cooler as that entails pulling or pushing air over circulating water. San Francisco also has a few higher humidity days that makes the evaporative cooling principles not work so well. If you have a couple of jugs of water to swap out this will keep you going 24/7 for those few days of hot weather we have.
As a last note if you’ve read this far I’ve got a collection of things to write about now that I’ve taken a much needed rest so keep checking back!
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.
A few people have been talking about this, but unfortunately they weren’t old enough to experience it first hand [you darn kids!]. In 1976 something weird happened in San Francisco…it snowed. Now I spent plenty of time outside San Francisco on vacations and even had a chance as a five year old to drive up to Hamm’s Station in the Sierra’s from my Aunt’s house in Jackson to experience snow and tobogganing. Unfortunately my much larger football playing cousin fell off the back leaving light old me to shoot up over the end of the snow and head face first for a trailer hitch with my parents just standing there screaming and doing nothing to stop the toboggan. For some reason a little voice in my head told me to lie down and I slid under the car and was stopped by a gas pump.
That was the last time I was allowed on a toboggan, but it wasn’t the last time I dealt with snow. So on sometime around February 5, 1976 I heard my Grandmother yelling from downstairs for me and I jumped up and ran downstairs at 3am thinking what do you want and why are you screaming at me at 3am in the morning and then she opened the back door. SNOW, in San Francisco. There must have been close to a foot at the time because it was the middle of the night. Our dog ran down and ran outside and got to the bottom of the stairs and decided to come back in the house. He had never seen snow so this was something he didn’t understand. I started making snowballs and throwing them all over the place of course because that’s what you do with snow.
In the morning there was still snow and I got bundled up for junior high school and walked down and as I turned the corner was hit by a snowball. OK, it’s on now. I knew how to be a machine gun with snowballs and several of the kids started to run away while a few joined my team. One of my friends Martin who was on the other team who happened to make a rather large snowball and as I saw it coming at me I ducked and heard a rather large crack behind me. Apparently it was so big because it was a snowball made around a heap of frozen dog poop. Throwing frozen dog poop is kind of like throwing a rock at someone because the person who got hit took it right in the nose and ended up with a broken nose. That was probably the most not fun part of the snow storm.
The roads were icy in places and it was the first time a lot of the city kids had not only seen snow, but seen cars swinging back and forth on the ice. Note I had hike a few miles to the Sulphur Works in December at Lassen Volcanic Park with a friend of mine Mark Ghiorso wearing snowshoes so there was a bit of mountain man in me. Slipping on the ice you just expected if you didn’t have crampons attached to your shoes which we didn’t. I understood the snow while most of the other kids didn’t.
This was a whole new world to a lot of us, but we actually have had snow since then. I lived for a short time in Midland Terrace and in the mornings would see a few trucks coming down off the top of the mountain and they’d have some snow in the back of their trucks. In 1986 I worked on the third floor of the Pacific Bell Building and we started to see snow fall and all ran downstairs to see the snow which had melted by the ground floor and just turned into rain.
We do have every few years of weather where it’s cold enough for your car windshield to ice over which I would always go and get a bucket of hot water and pour over the windshield. The first couple of times my wife would yell at me because you apparently don’t do that back east because it either freezes over or cracks your windshield. Well, on the west coast it doesn’t stay cold enough for that to happen and the ice just melted away.
Snow can be fun, but after hearing what living through a winter back east is like, I’ve decided I’ll just take the cold rain here. You don’t need an old beater car to drive in the snow so you don’t ruin your good car. You don’t need chains and the stores don’t run out of food and your power doesn’t go out for a couple of weeks at a time. Thank you 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.
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.
Louis Black once said that the best job in the world would be the weatherman in San Diego, “How’s the weather today Bob?…Nice.” Now I don’t want to put down our local meteorologists [the new way to de-sexify weatherman], but our people who handle the weather have their work cut out for them and they should get paid more than the same people in San Diego where it’s nice.
I love my weather app on my iPhone and since my wife is from the East Coast I’ve learned that the Weather Channel is sacred to them back there. Whenever someone from the East Coast comes to SF they always want to watch the Weather Channel for some reason. I always tell them you can watch, but don’t expect them to get it right all the time.
San Francisco has four micro-climates, The Fog Belt out by the beach, the Banana Belt out in the Mission, The Wind tunnel of downtown and I’m not a meteorologist, so I don’t remember the name of the fourth, but I believe it’s on the Bay side of the city. When I lived out in the Mission district for six years I don’t think I put on a sweatshirt once unless I was traveling over the hills to get to my parents house in the Sunset where I gladly live now. Here in the Sunset I sometimes get to wear a short sleeve shirt, but it’s usually under several layers because the morning start out cold and wet and sometimes actually warm up so you have to shed your layers of clothes until around 2-3pm when the wind starts to kick up and then you put on heavier clothes if you have to spend time outdoors at all.
Meteorologists always have to give a forecast for the coasts and inlands because you can see as much as a 40° difference in weather. When I go to work it’s cold and wet out here in the late morning and when I get to work in Marin it’s bright and sunny. It was warm there today and for once they got it right. It was supposed to be hot on Friday, but then the wind changed direction and it got cooler and foggier. Then yesterday it was supposed to be heavy fog at the coasts and it was more like an overcast day with high clouds, at least in the Sunset. Richmond District may have been worse.
We all know that the best way to spot a tourist in San Francisco is anyone you see downtown in Summer in shorts. May, if we’re lucky and then usually September & October are the times for wearing your tank tops and shorts [usually]. Sometimes like when we had the big el Niño in the late 90’s we had to wear our winter coats in July and I was grilling in shorts and a tank top on New Year’s Eve. There’s a lot of things that screw with our weather here, but it’s mostly the winds on the coast and the hills. I called my wife from work today to see how things where going, “It’s cold and wet”. I didn’t really want to tell her I was basking in 78° bright sun in Marin, so I just left that out, but she likes the fog here anyway.
Predicting the weather is a hit or miss option in San Francisco so make sure the next time you listen to a weather report to cut your weatherperson a little slack. If they could control the weather they wouldn’t care what you think because they’d be Gods. Oh and contrary to popular belief, Mark Twain never said, The coldest summer I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
There is a little known fact about San Francisco. We like Australia don’t get our summer in summer. June, July and August are normally in the low to mid 60’s and foggy. It’s actually rare that the sun comes out in summer on even a single day. Well thank you global warming, things have changed.
San Francisco typically has its summer wrapped around people’s normal summer. Usually May the weather warms up and the heat rises only to cool down when June comes around. Then sometime late in August we get our Indian summer which runs up to late October. When we have the El Nino weather it’s gone on to last through New Years where one year I remember barbecuing on New Year’s in 80° heat.
Ocean Beach has never been a place for the faint of heart. You usually need a very rustic bearing of Scottish sea farer to stand up to the hardships that Ocean Beach gives you. That wasn’t so yesterday and it won’t be today either. My weather app told me that we could expect up to 78° yesterday and I had the chance to meet up with an old friend out in the Bayview. When I left at noon I walked outside in steamy 90° heat that you never get in June in San Francisco. I immediately turned on the AC only to realize I was half way home before I could feel that there was cool air coming out of it.
As I got home a sweaty mess it was at least in the upper 70° out by the beach. I double check my weather app and notice that the temps are going to stay hot for the rest of the week. I’m come to notice that whatever the weather app says is pretty close to what happens. At least it looks like we’ll be seeing some proper June weather for San Francisco by the weekend when the temps should drop to the upper 60’s, but it’ll be overcast. THAT is what a summer is like in San Francisco.
Hello my friends and readers. I just wanted to let you know that while writing every day doesn’t always take up too much of my time, the researching does and I feel I need to step back a bit so that I’m giving quality and not quantity. I want to make sure I get to fact check anything I put out there unlike some of the modern day journalists. So I’m going to try something…
I’ll write Monday through Friday and keep the weekends to myself. That’ll give me time to travel around San Francisco more and get more pictures of my nefarious deeds and actually have some time to work in audio interviews for the podcast I’m trying to get started. Besides, I need to get out of the house more and moreover, I need to get out of the Sunset District more. Not because I don’t like the fog. It’s one of the things I actually like about the Sunset because I appreciate the sun so much more.
So for now I’m going home early, wait, I’m already home. I guess I’ll go out and take some photos around San Francisco. For today I’ll leave you all with some of my pretty pictures taken at Ocean Beach when we had good weather. Let’s all hope for a nice spring this year! Cheers to my friends at the Ocean Beach Bulletin!