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Palm trees in my neighborhood; snow on the mountain I live on

Posted by John Reed on

I was surprised to see snow on the top of Mount Diablo this morning when I came out of my breakfast restaurant. I live on Mount Diablo, but I cannot see the top from my home. That happens two or three times a winter here.

When I was in high school in NJ, I saw a photo taken in LA. It had palm trees in the foreground and snow-capped mountains in the background. I did not understand how the two could co-exist in the same region.

I grew up and went to college grad school and the Army on the East Coast. There, when it snows anywhere, it snows everywhere.

In the West, snow is determined by altitude not latitude or today’s regional weather forecast. Actually, a forecast of precipitation means snow at the higher altitudes, and rain at the lower, if it’s cold enough at the higher altitudes.

There are palm trees in my neighborhood. They kept trying to grow them indoors at the Cherry Hill Mall when I lived on South Jersey—to no avail.

As a kid, I knew CA was warmer, but assumed it was just latitude and/or ocean currents, i.e., CA = FL.

No. I am at the latitude of Richmond, VA, which is hot and humid in summer. Here in CA, the summer temperature may be hot or cool depending upon how close you are to the ocean. SF used to advertise to vacationers that it was “air-conditoned by nature.” Mark Twain was more accurate. He said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Humidity is rare here in summer. So is rain. Our winter humidity is not discussed because humidity is not a problem in cool weather. Apparently as a result of the dry weather, we do not have much of a bug problem.

On the east coast, they have Florida rooms and screened-in back porches and screen doors. We Californians have patios with no roof or screens and if you paid me a thousand dollars to take you to a location where there was a screen door I probably could not collect the money.

Some other things they have back east that are either non-existent here, or rare, are above-ground pools and window air-conditioners. If you gave me a week to do it, I probably could not take you to an above-ground pool.

My last house, in Moraga, CA, had NO air-conditioning. No one there had it. Before that we lived on Russian Hill in San Francisco and also had no air-conditioning. It was not low-income. Dick Van Dyke lived in the building when we moved out.

The average July high temperature in San Francisco is 63.8º; in Moraga, 75º; and in Alamo where I live now, 75º. We do have air-conditioning in Alamo, though. You only need it about five days a summer in Moraga; in Alamo, most days.

I’m just trying to help any Midwesterners, Southerners, or Northeasterners who are as ignorant of the Southwestern and Pacific climates as I was in my youth. If it sounds too good to be true, visit CA.


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