San Diego-Best Weather in the USA?

Balboa Park greenhouse

I like San Diego.  I’ve been here a few times, most recently just a week or so ago.  The weather then (late September) was hot and relatively dry which is typical for that time of year-typically it gets hotter and dryer as you move away from the beach  It’s almost always sunny, which is why San Diego is pretty consistently ranked as having the best weather in the USA.  But is it really so?

Consistency is the key word here, as the report notes that San Diego has 261 days of weather between 55-75 degrees and basically no precipitation.  That may sound like paradise to you, and if so, I’d say you ought to move there (if you can afford the astronomically high housing prices).  But for others (including me), there’s more to it than that.

Let’s start with that infinitesimally low rainfall.  True, I wouldn’t want to put up with Seattle levels of water, but I don’t mind (and actually enjoy) an occasional rainstorm.  There’s something soothing, at least to me, about listening to the drops tap-tap-tapping on my window.  It puts me in the mood to pick up a good book, watch an old movie, or make love. 

And besides, no rain means no vegetation, either.  When you drive around the San Diego area, what you see to my eyes is a kind of desert.  Yes, there are some trees, but they’re here and there in small clumps in a sea of yellow/brown grass that looks like it could catch fire at any minute.

Which it does, and not infrequently.  Fires in Southern California are bad and getting worse each year.  Seems like they could use a bit more rain to me.  And like most people, I love the green that real rain brings.

On the other hand, you can get too much rain, or rather, too much rain on the wrong terrain (hey, I’m a poet).  In Florida, we get torrents of rain, and plenty of sun to boot.  Everything’s green, all right, but that’s because the rain just sits there in a pond one foot below the slab of your house, which serves as a breeding ground for insects and alligators.  Plus, with summertime temperatures in the 80s-90s, and “wet rag” humidity levels, it’s hard to stay comfortable half the year.  That goes even more so throughout the rest of the South, which doesn’t even have nice ocean breezes to mitigate the misery.

You can have even greater than Florida levels of precipitation in a cold climate like Oregon or Washington, only in those states, you don’t even get to enjoy the beauty of a nice snow as compensation for the misery of precipitation almost all year.  Consistently raining isn’t what most people want.

Then there’s the midwest, where you do get rain and sun in many places, but there’s no consistency to the weather at all.  Winter in the summer and vice versa isn’t what most people want, either.

The northeast gets brutal winters and sizzling summers.  Pretty consistent, but pretty sorry weather.

Then there’s the Smoky mountains, or the mountain south.  Is this the best weather in the USA?  You get 4 seasons, mild winters, and, at sufficient elevation, cooler summers than the rest of the South.  You even get fall foliage.  No ocean, but you can’t have everything.

Or can you?  Hawaii gives you lots of green, lots of sun, low humidity, and beautiful ocean and mountain views.  But then, you don’t get 4 seasons.  Darn! 

I guess there is no perfect weather, but San Diego comes close.  I love Balboa Park and its famous zoo, I love the wine tastings, and I love the beaches, which have warmer water than most on the West Coast.  It’s got a good diverse economy and lots of smart young people make a fine living there.  You could do a lot worse weather-wise and in a score of other ways as well.

I guess it comes down to what weather do you really like?  I know some people who swear by Colorado or northern New Mexico for their dry 4 seasons climate.  It just comes down to your own personal preferences.  As the Bard once said, “To each his own!”

Old Cadillac seen in Balboa Park
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