Expectations vs. reality: NorCal weather

Photo of UC Berkeley in the rain
Sam Albillo/File
A press release from the city of Berkeley encourages the public to stay alert and to report any issues related to the wind advisory, flash flood watch and heavy rain forecast in the East Bay, including calling 911 for downed power lines and calling 311 to report clogged drains or fallen trees. For further safety measures, the public is recommended to sign up for PG&E outage alerts and to unplug or turn off all electrical appliances during an outage.

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California, the land of palm trees and sun, or so I thought at least. Coming from Asia, I had this impression that the whole of California was basically like Los Angeles. Alas, this wasn’t true. Flying over to the Bay Area, all I found was gray fog and a cold that clings to you even when you finally get indoors. Needless to say, disappointed was an understatement to describe how I felt when my flight landed in August 2018.

My first day in San Francisco, and I’d expected a warm summer breeze with a hint of eucalyptus in the air. Instead, there was a biting chilly wind and dampness that immediately started clinging to the air. I thought it was because I’d landed really early in the morning, so I brushed it off.

My first semester, my excited and innocent freshman self had signed up for classes starting 8 a.m. every day. I thought it would make me more productive, I guess. While the classes themselves were fine, the worst part of it was leaving my warm bed in the morning to get up, shower and brave the nonsensically cold East Bay wind on my walk to class. In fact, I definitely made the choice to just stay in bed some days, choosing warmth over the cold.

Now, having been here for a year, I suppose I’ve gotten used to the weather a little. On some days, I can even appreciate the cold giving me excuses to chug hot chocolate all day and snuggle up under my blankets. Sure, sometimes the weather is variable, and the clouds can’t decide when it is time to rain and when we’re allowed a bit of sun. Carrying an umbrella around is now second nature, and I know now to just be prepared for every situation, instead of relying on the weather forecast.

The one thing I can say for sure is that Berkeley has taught me to expect anything when it comes to the weather and UC Berkeley in general. Even if I’m freezing because Berkeley can be like an arctic tundra in the morning, I know that I need to layer because it’s going to be much warmer in a matter of hours. While I can’t say that I expected to be learning how to prepare for the weather when I came to university, having come from a place with a fairly monotonous and predictable climate, there’s something to be said for how Berkeley literally prepares you for everything.

Sure, I came here expecting warm days of basking in the sun, and instead I get to wake up to a lot of fog and more cold than I’m used to, but it’s not all bad. The weather means I have an excuse to stay in bed as much as I want and be cozy under my blankets with my warm beverages.

Contact Chandini Dialani at [email protected].