Climate, Weather And SoCal


I’m on the patio with my laptop, a cup of coffee and the crumbs from a toasted sesame bagel.

Birds are chirping nearby. It’s a ‘trill’ kind of sound never heard in the Northeast, but always heard in Disney movies. Birds here sound like they’re auditioning for Snow White.

It’s cloudy. I’ve been looking at those clouds and thinking like a meteorologist. That never stops.

We get weather in SoCal, but it’s really mostly climate with small day-to-day shifts. Each season has an individual weather personality. It doesn’t rain in the summer. Sunshine is dependable. Our humidity (never really high) varies greatly depending on wind direction.

Even the wind direction is dependable. A friend (and blog reader) who drives 757s from New York to California and back said he’s never landed from the west at LAX. He’s been flying there for decades! Westerly breezes off-the-water prevail.

Today we’ve got the marine layer. It should break in an hour or so.

It’s very nicely modeled–surprisingly. Using BUFKIT and the GFS it’s very easy to spot a week away. This more exact “in an hour” prediction is based mostly on the HRRR which is high resolution, but short timeframe.

We have low night and morning clouds, even a little fog and drizzle near the coast, many days this time of year. That’s climate. Which days specifically, that’s weather.

Years ago when I came here from back east I saw Fritz Coleman one Saturday morning in what was obviously a weathercast taped the night before! They don’t do that anymore, but climate makes weather that predictable.

2 thoughts on “Climate, Weather And SoCal”

  1. I can appreciate where you’re coming from – as a person who also has a background in weather (though climatology – not meteorology), I think most folks don’t really realize how climate (and the genetics of what create that climate) is really what controls the average weather they are likely to experience. It can be quite humorous when friends and family come back from a trip and report to me how they were “so shocked” it was so cold in the Upper Midwest… so dry in Phoenix and Yuma… overcast in the Pacific Northwest…. sultry in New Orleans and Charleston….etc.

    As far as the marine layer and the cool summer conditions often found on the lower West Coast in spring and summer, it’s quite interesting how it is so different from what the East Coast experiences at the same time of year –at least from a climatology perspective: The marine layer and cool summer coastal climates out on the West Coast are really created by southward flow out of the Pacific subtropical High – and the cold ocean currents coming out of the Gulf of Alaska that dive south along the West Coast. The upwelling process creates the overcast/low stratus and unusually cool summers (for their latitude) and cold sea surface temperatures of places like San Francisco and Newport Beach. On the East Coast the situation is reversed of course: The northward flow out of the Subtropical Bermuda High sends warm humid air north and a deep current of tropical ocean currents up the East Coast.

    These different flow patterns and the differences they create in climate at the same latitude can be shocking: The mean monthly July/August temp in San Francisco is only 64 F and only 72 F in Newport Beach or San Diego. At equivalent latitude on the East Coast, Virginia Beach has a July mean temp 80 F and Charleston 82 F. The differences in ocean temps are even more shocking: The sea surface temps off Newport Beach never gets much above 68 F even in mid-summer (and San Francisco never gets above the low/mid 50’s F!), yet places like Virginia Beach have 78 F sea surface temps and most places on the East Coast from Myrtle Beach southward are into the 80’s in summer. Shockingly, even the sea surface temps around the Tri-State area in Long Island Sound or off the south shore/NJ coast are warmer than most of California in summer.

    We can thank/or curse the subtropical highs for all of this.

  2. Actually, I have landed from the west to the east in LAX… nearly 30 years of flying there, it’s less than a handful of times.
    Conditions which favor landing to the east, Runways 6L/R on the North side of the airport and Runways 7L/R on the South side of the airport, include: very late night arrivals (typically all-night/red eye flights from Asia and Hawaii) due to noise abatement policies at the airport, and when low ceilings, wind and visibilities preclude landing to the preferred airport configuration of landing to the west.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *