Los Angeles averages 329 days of sun per year. It’s actually quite warm and sunny most of the winter. Then sometime mid-May we shift into May Gray leading to June Gloom, a weather phenomenon that appears this time of year in Southern California, as cyclical as spring and summer.
Most years after about two weeks of little or no sunshine I lapse into feeling like I need to hibernate. We are sunshine people and I don’t do well without consistent exposure. This is an embarrassingly hard thing to admit when I know how many of my blogging friends live for months with extremes of cold and damp, without even a spot of sun until mid-spring.
I’m not alone in my physical reaction, however.
With great interest I’ve read numerous studies linking sunshine to mood. Natural sunlight provides essential vitamin D and can protect a person from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight boosts key mood boosting hormones and wards off some forms of depression.
May and June are typically the cloudiest months of the year in coastal Southern California. The clouds are formed when the marine layer moves in late at night and the resulting damp and gloomy pattern hangs around until late afternoon, when finally the setting sun makes a brief appearance below the clouds and there may be a couple of hours of “happy” sunshine.
A fun and informative blog post on this natural phenomenon can be read HERE, but basically all that’s required is cold Pacific Ocean water, an ocean current known as the California current and a high pressure formation.
There are some benefits to this moisture-laden foggy weather, however. In a mega-drought cycle it is a wonderful reminder that Mother Nature knows how to make an appearance and send a little relief. We aren’t using much outside water right now. Conservation isn’t nearly the challenge it will be in a couple of months.
May and June are somewhat unique, but in July and August the fog associated with the beach areas following hot summer days can also roll in and cool further inland.
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is in the Brentwood neighborhood. On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean, but it isn’t “at the beach” in the same sense as the Getty Malibu campus. These photos were taken last August as friends and I visited on an afternoon and stayed into the evening.
Temperatures at my house, less than 25 miles away, had been in the 100s that day. As we strolled around the campus the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped enough that we were cold…and a little wet.
Mother Nature knows how to cool us off and is doing her best to assist the parched environment. So I’m doing my best to embrace the benefits of May Gray and may even be looking forward to June Gloom.
We have Hollywood Bowl tickets tomorrow night seeing Neil Diamond in concert for the first time–it’s our first time, not Neil’s. I won’t know until tomorrow if I need to plan for wet weather. No umbrellas are allowed inside the Bowl so this could be exciting.
It is a three-day weekend as we commemorate Memorial Day. Monday will be a quiet day at home, I’m anticipating, and maybe I can get caught up with some of you. I’ve not been spending much time blogging recently.
I have been very busy during the day, yes, but you see, May Gray HAS been making me want to hibernate, and my evenings have been very short! Maybe I need a sun lamp? (If you’ve just endured a long, freezing winter you have my permission to roll your eyes.)
Whatever Mother Nature delivers to your door step this weekend, I hope you have a very enjoyable one. I’ll look forward to hearing about it.