Weather as a Thing to Do and Dressing for Success
Weather and dressing for your visit to San Francisco are two topics that are intertwined – one (what you wear) depends on the other (weather), but the weather has its own thing going on too.
To an outsider, someone who doesn’t actually live in San Francisco, the weather in the Bay Area is a kind of freaky conundrum. A mystery. For the locals it is a crapshoot. Not only does it not play by the rules of the seasons, winter showing up in summer and winter being whatever it wants to be, San Francisco is also a city of microclimates . Depending on where you are at any given moment, the temperature could change plus or minus ten degrees and it can go from sunny to foggy at the turn of a corner. Fortunately for the locals, they know where those corners and neighborhoods are and the time of day to maneuver from here to there. Unfortunately for the traveler, artful or otherwise, the unexpected weather becomes more of a frustrating hassle than a game. One way to get around this is the layer theory of dressing.Dressing in layers in San Francisco is a must if you want to be comfortable during an entire day of streethiking or visiting the innermost sanctums of The City. An in-season shirt (T in summer, a turtleneck in winter) layered under a sweater and then a jacket or coat can be most useful. Remove your layers as the day gets warmer and re-add the layers as the fog rolls in and the sun sets. This is pretty good advice for any time of the year in San Francisco.
And the biggest, most valuable, piece of advice anyone could give the visitor to San Francisco: Leave the shorts at home.
There are only a few weeks during the year where shorts can come in handy. The locals don’t even know when these weeks are. And it is usually not a consecutive time period. There could be a five day heat wave in March then, poof, back to fog and chilly mornings. Then another heatwave in October… It could happen in June or September, April or August. Unless you are doing a tour of The Southwest during the summer months, there is no reason to have shorts in your suitcase.
There are other aspects of the weather in San Francisco, and along the California coast, that are worth talking about – the weather in the Bay Area as a spectator sport.
Winter is the best time of the year to experience this phenomena.
The first rains of winter bring the floods. Little ones, big ones, depends on how much and how fast the rain comes. Once winter is in full swing, there is nothing more spectacular than going to the coast to experience the ocean in all of her incredible splendor. Winter is when the Pacific Ocean roars and crashes and lives up to its thrilling reputation. There is no more thrilling a sensation than standing on a cliff as the rain pours out of the grey sky, the waves crash on the cliffs and you can stand there and scream your lungs out and no one will hear! Sand dunes from the beach can drift across The Great Highway and even surfers dare not to test her limits when the Pacific is in the throes of winter. The rain brings out the smells of the Eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress trees in Golden Gate park. As winter presses on, the golden hills turn green and the spring wildflowers come into bloom.
Then in the summer the fog takes over the mornings and evenings and the sun peeks out for awhile in the afternoon, like clockwork. In the summer the ocean is much more calm.