San Francisco Weather

San Francisco Weather

The famous San Francisco fog is not just water vapor. It’s a vital element, an entity in the life of this great city. It wraps its arms around the Golden Gate Bridge extending its reach through the city’s hills creating microclimates within San Francisco neighborhoods. The hills protect eastern areas of the peninsula from the fog and wind making the days there sunnier than the western side. In Potrero Hill, for example, foggy days are fewer and sunshine pours over the neighborhood on a more regular basis while the Inner Sunset is one of the most consistently cold and foggy locations in San Francisco.

The basic San Francisco climate is a Mediterranean one with small temperature variations. The weather is generally consistent year-round with mild, wet winters and mostly dry summers. The average annual high temp is 62 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low is 51 degrees. Only 28 days a year exceed 75 degrees, because sea breezes usually moderate any spikes in temperature. When the inland areas heat up during the summer months air currents pull the fog from the bay into the city. This is when the weather can surprise many a visitor by quickly turning foggy, wet and cold . And if you don’t take a sweatshirt or jacket to San Francisco, you will end up buying one. (There are some great bargains in outer wear along Fisherman’s Wharf. A decent-looking medium weight jacket can be found there for under $25.)

The dry months are May to October while the rainy months are November through April. Average rainfall is around 20 inches, with less than 70 rainy days a year. There have been only 10 instances of snow recorded in San Francisco since 1852. In 1887, an unexpected 4 inch snowfall covered downtown. The last time the city got any kind of snow was in 1976.

San Francisco’s “Indian Summer” months of September through November, are the best parts of the year to venture into the city. There is less fog, the days are warmed by the hot Central Valley winds, evenings are balmy, and bright stars hang in clear skies above the city. But no matter when you go to San Francisco, bring a light jacket and dress in layers like the locals. They know that the weather can change in an instant and in San Francisco, as in life, you have to be prepared for anything.

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