Here’s the weather summary, as printed the other day on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hot and sunny. Highs from 65 to 105.”
A 40-degree swing? On a single day? All within a tiny geographic zone? What’s with that?
Those of us who live along the sliver of California coast where temperatures are usually at — or below — the lower “high” noted above, wear hooded jackets and sweaters in mid-summer. It’s downright embarrassing. How can I complain to my relatives back East about the uncomfortable chill while they’re soaked with perspiration after a one-block walk from subway to office?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m plenty worried about global warming and the manifestations of climate change. I’m concerned when I see news coverage of visitors at the Eiffel Tower plunging into the Trocadero fountain to escape record heat of 109 degrees. Still, the variations in temperature I deal with daily leave me cold.
A few nights ago in San Francisco the Giants won a thrilling baseball game and yet TV reporter Amy Gutierrez, bundled in a winter coat as she stood shivering near the dugout, couldn’t keep from complaining about “freezing.” That must not have sat well with viewers just a few miles inland where air conditioners were struggling to cut through the heat.
A weather buff back East with whom I correspond regularly notes that Maine has a similar condition in which offshore Atlantic winds frequently cause a 10 to 20 degree differential with adjacent inland. But a 40-degree variance? Not likely.
“June Gloom,” as they call it here on the Monterey Peninsula, is actually a summer-long condition, lasting until after Labor Day. I don’t know of any home with air conditioning. The community swimming pool is heated in August. The ocean is unthinkably cold, entered only by the bravest of souls in wet suits. Lobby fireplaces at local hotels roar throughout summer.
The oddest thing about California is that we often record the nation’s high and low temperature on the same day. The state has the most variable climate in North America. The other afternoon it was 114 in Palm Springs, 105 in Bakersfield and 56 in my driveway.
For those of us in the Sunless Belt, global warming is an abstract condition that we accept on faith, sort of like the Earth’s roundness.
That said, I’m genuinely sorry to be fretting about shivering while so many of you are shvitzing. Seems the weather is always better on the other side of the map.