Tuesday, June 12, 2012

California, It's Cold and It's Damp

[Chart shows average percent of possible sunshine per month. From Curbed LA]

Here's an interesting piece via the terrific blog Curbed LA -- from The Last Word on Nothing blog, with an explanation of the cultural and scientific importance of June Gloom--the infamous weather phenomenon that casts a gray pall over the Southern California coastal region every spring and summer, prompting shock in newcomers and visitors.

From Curbed LA: "The recipe for June Gloom requires three ingredients: cold Pacific Ocean water, an ocean current known as the California Current, and a high pressure formation known as the Pacific High: "Usually, the atmosphere gets colder as you head up. But the cold water creates a situation where the air near the water's surface is colder than the air above it: an inversion. The Pacific High pushes air downward, compressing it and warming it. Together, this forms a stable inversion air that can hold a layer of cloud near the water's surface like an older brother crouching on an upstart sibling."

Aha! Finally, an explanation for my first mystifying impression of California, as a kid from Philadelphia in the service in 1970, astonished that it was (as the old Rogers and Hart song goes) cold and damp -- in June. Also, the ocean water was impressively cold. Turns out that's a year-round phenomenon, though.

Also, that the Pacific Ocean is nearly always seen from high ground, as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean, which is nearly always encountered from eye-level. That's simple geography and topography.


1 comment:

James said...

That coastal fog gives us our redwoods -- without the fog the trees can't get the water they need.