Weather Wimps

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The headlines were dramatic: "Stormageddon!" shrieked one newspaper. "Storm of  the decade!" screamed another. Was it a hurricane? A paralyzing blizzard? A  monsoon?

Well, no. It was actually that rainy day that virtually closed down the Bay Area in December. And the storm was definitely inconvenient, with thousands losing power, minor flooding and a few traffic snarls. It was so rainy and windy even department  stores in Union Square locked their doors, just before Christmas. And, while I don't mean to minimize anybody's bad day, we Californians don't know what severe weather is.

Ask any East Coast transplant for some winter weather horror stories, and our December "Stormageddon" will seem downright tropical. Heavy rain? Try shoveling five feet of snow blocking your front door or skidding on a frozen icy highway. Windy? Beats digging your trapped car out from a snow bank, or waiting for the bus in 20-degree-below-zero wind chill.

In fact, only weeks before Northern California's "storm of the decade," roofs were actually collapsing on homes in Buffalo, New York under a record snowfall of eight feet in three days.

And it isn't only winter weather. During those few hot days the Bay Area enjoys every October, people are fainting in BART stations and going to work practically naked as temperatures climb to a sweltering 85 degrees. Compare that to 110 degree summer days in Phoenix or Palm Springs.


Let's face it, we Bay Area residents are spoiled with our almost perfect climate. One of the ironies about San Francisco is that, in a city famous for extremes in everything from food to politics to lifestyles, the weather is so mildly, predictably the same.

Clear, cool and breezy could be the weather forecast for just about any day in  
San Francisco, winter, summer, spring or fall. In fact, just glancing out the window here, it would be hard to guess which season it is. That sure isn't the case for a peek out the window in Boston or Chicago. As most of the nation goes about business as usual in the middle of snowstorms, we're freaking about some rain. No wonder the rest of the country thinks we're a bunch of weather wimps.

So, though the Bay Area has its share of problems to complain about, from high housing costs to parking to earthquakes, bad weather is not on the list. Sorry to rain on your parade, but one rainy day does not qualify as the storm of the century.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches in the San Francisco Unified School District.