“June Gloom,” the annual weather phenomena currently affecting California, is characterized by a rolling fog that brings with it occasional rain and constant cloudy days. While it’s certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing time of year (according to some Santa Barbarans and tourists), it is a completely normal occurrence affecting coastal regions around the world, including Central California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Inland Empire.
June Gloom takes place when colder wind currents from the ocean come into contact with our usual warmer coastal air. The combination of these elements creates a cooling effect that allows for the formation of fog and clouds, which proceed to overtake the skies and provide that “gloomy” effect which gives this season its name.
June Gloom’s veracity can usually be determined by the prevailing meteorological pattern of the year. Ocean temperatures off the Californian coast are characterized by El Niño and La Niña events. El Niño and La Niña are climate patterns that induce warmer or cooler temperatures in the oceans, which then affect the temperature of mainland weather.
During El Niño years, locals can expect less gray days and June Gloom’s already brief tenure to be even shorter. However, given La Niña’s cooler nature, locals and visitors to Santa Barbara can expect more cloudy days dominating May and June. Despite the season’s poor reputation among locals, it provides a crucial period of cooling within the Californian coastal regions, which are otherwise sunny year-round.
Furthermore, local ecosystems benefit greatly from June Gloom’s moisture, providing a much-needed relief which allows local plant life to survive and thrive. Despite complaints regarding June Gloom’s seasonal “unattractiveness,” certain photographers find an uncanny, ethereal beauty generated from the rolling fog’s physical obscuring of flora and the cloudy skies above.
This gloomy season lacks longevity, however, with marine layers of cool fog dissipating when the afternoon rolls around. Indeed, June Gloom, as its name implies, usually never lasts long beyond its namesake month.
Perhaps most interesting is how June Gloom seems to affect the moods of certain individuals. Given that most Californians are used to bright weather patterns year-round, they are often taken by surprise when the fog settles in and begin exhibiting symptoms of stress, low energy, difficulty concentrating and more.
To combat these byproducts of June Gloom, individuals could take part in more indoor activities or schedule outings with others to reduce possibilities of social isolation during this time. Unfortunately, June Gloom also occurs right during final exam season and the start of summer. Precautions for those with seasonal depression issues should be taken so that the temporary gloom doesn’t get the better of you.
Curiously, this year’s June Gloom appears to be more severe than previous years. The San Diego International Airport will log over 20 cloudy days as opposed to their average of 11, with a similar statistic also present at Los Angeles International Airport.
The exact reasons for this remain a mystery that meteorologists are attempting to discern; their best hypothesis is that colder oceanic air is “stalling” over California. However, the June Gloom will dissipate by the end of the month or early July, bringing with it the standard summer weather California is known for, albeit later than expected.
Despite its uncharacteristic appearance in a sunny state, the June Gloom phenomenon brings with it a variety of benefits to local ecosystems and atmospheric conditions Southern California doesn’t typically enjoy. As long as you can manage the possible seasonal depressive disorders that might generate around this time, you’ll enjoy or, at the very least, easily get through this atypical time of year. Maybe the June Gloom isn’t so gloomy after all!