Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weather Wimp

Let me say right up front, I'm a weather wimp.
I'm Southern California born and bred and when the temperature dips below 70 or it rains more than once a week, I become restless, easily irritated, feeling caged like an animal.
Oh sure, I've lived other places: San Francisco where summer never comes and the fog seeps into your bones; and Washington, D.C., a place so hot in July and August that the British Foreign Service once declared it a hardship post, considering it a worse place to live than Calcutta.
All things considered, I'll take Los Angeles, where the voices of songbirds waft on jasmine-scented breezes.
Until this year.
This spring stinks. Too cold, too cloudy, too windy, too wet. Not the kind of top down, crank-up the Beach Boys weather we've grown to love. More like Scotland or some other dark, brooding place.
Not that everybody minds. The local television news crews have been able to roll out their "storm watch" teams with irritating frequency, firing up Doppler radar, filming the same flooded intersection in the San Fernando Valley week after week and sending their highly skilled reporters out to ask people on the street, "So, what do you think about the rain?"
For the rest of us, however, good weather makes most of the unpleasant aspects of living in this megalopolis tolerable.
So I checked in with the National Weather Service to see what gives.
In its usual understated way, they concede that the period from Feb. 6 through April "unusually cool." Which is like saying that Shaquille O'Neill is "unusually large."
The NWS will tell you that temperatures have been below normal for 46 of the last 51 days.
In fact, in April, as of this writing, temperatures have been below normal every single day. It was the coldest March since 1962. For all you weather nuts out there, the coldest March in history was in 1880 with an average temperature of just over 54 degrees. I'm surprised anyone moved here.
The average daily high in March this year was 63.3 degrees, 6.5 degrees below normal which the NWS describes as "whopping."
Rainfall for March recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2.87 inches, actually slightly below normal. But it rained 11 days in March, nearly twice the normal number of wet days.
For the season, rainfall will be about 80 per cent of normal downtown. Some areas are reporting normal totals. And, of course, compared to last year, it's been downright bone dry. Last year, depending on where you live, we received from 36 to 50 inches of rain.
All of this should dispel the notion that we don't have weather in Southern California.
After all, this is the land where weather conditions sound like the lineup for a rock concert: the Santa Ana Wind, June Gloom, Pineapple Express, the Red Flag Warning and the Cutoff Low.
For the next 30 days, it looks like we can expect more of the same although forecasters rival stockbrokers when it comes to warning that their advice could be totally wrong.
As for me, I'll throw another log on the fire and keep complaining. As novelist Kin Hubbard once observed, "Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in awhile, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation."

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