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San Francisco Weather and Climate
Getting today's weather or a forecast for the upcoming week is easy, but if you're planning a visit, you want to know about the climate - what it's normally like. The averages above may be more helpful than what's going on right now.
If You're Planning a San Francisco Vacation, go to the San Francisco vacation planner for more information. Page 2 of this guide gives some tips for what to wear in San Francisco and what to pack if you're going there.
Do You Think Metric?
Click on over to page 3 to find the same information in °C and cm.
A Few Things You May Not Know About San Francisco Weather
It's a rare day when everything about San Francisco weather is exactly "average." You can use the climate information above to get an idea of what things will be like, but the last time we checked, the city was not issuing any weather guarantees.
Average rainfall is particularly deceiving in California. Rainfall depends on what happens in the Pacific Ocean. When the... ocean experiences El Nino conditions, it can rain a lot. In other years, you'll hardly see a drop all winter. And when it does rain, a whole month's rainfall often comes in just a day or two.
Have you heard of June Gloom? If you don't know Pacific coastal weather patterns, this may sound wrong - but it's true. June is San Francisco's driest month. It's also the month that gets the least sun, with lots of fog that keep things chilly. Some years, foggy, overcast conditions last longer than a month. It can start in May Gray and extend into July.
It's cold on June and July evenings. This isn't a joke. I live here, and I'm telling you how it really is, not the pretty visitors' bureau version. Fog is wet. It generates a cold, damp wind as it comes in. I've been in the city on Fourth of July and New Year's Eve and the mid-summer night feels colder.
Did I say it's cold in summer? Just one more fact to strengthen that point: San Francisco has the coldest average temperatures of any major U.S. city in June, July, and August.
San Francisco is at its best in spring and fall, when skies are clearer and rain less likely.
No matter what it's like during the day, San Francisco weather is almost always cool in the evening, especially near the ocean.
Some locals claim there's a phenomenon called "earthquake weather." They talk about it when it's hot and dry. This myth goes all the way back to ancient Greece, but it isn't true. Earthquakes start miles underground and happen in any weather.
San Francisco Weather Records
The highest recorded temperature in San Francisco was 103°F (39°C) on July 17, 1988, and June 14, 2000. The lowest was 27°F (−3°C) on December 11, 1932.
San Francisco by Month
You'll find more specific suggestions in these month-by-month guides:Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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What to Wear, What to Pack for Your San Francisco Trip
What to Wear in San Francisco
You know how to match temperature to your wardrobe selection, so this list focuses more on style and practical considerations you might not think of.
- Casual clothing is fine most of the time in San Francisco, even in some of the nicer restaurants.
- A few restaurants may have dress codes. If you're thinking high-end eating, check ahead.
- You may also want to get a little dressed up if you plan to go to a theater performance.
- San Francisco is full of microclimates and the temperature can change a lot in a single day. Whether or not it's fashionable, planning your wardrobe with lots of layers is a good way to go.
- Summer fog in San Francisco is colder than you can imagine. If you're going from May through July, pack all the layers you think you'll need, then pack one more. Or be prepared to make an emergency sweatshirt purchase.
- Good walking shoes are a must, with all those hills you may want to walk up and down.
What to Pack for San Francisco
These are... a few things that I have found helpful to have along when going to San Francisco:
Continue to 3 of 3 below.
- If your hair tends to frizz in humid places, bring extra products to keep it tamed.
- In winter, you might need an umbrella or raincoat. Just looking at the averages doesn't tell the whole story and weather patterns vary a lot from year to year. Your best bet to stay dry is to check the forecast just before you go.
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San Francisco Weather and Climate (Metric Units)
If you're more comfortable with Celsius and centimeters than Fahrenheit and inches and these graphs are just for you.
If you prefer those units of measure, then we're guessing that you may be an international visitor. If you are, you're not alone. Between 2 and 3 million international visitors come to San Francisco every year.
Besides the information on the previous page, here are a few more things that may help you plan your trip:
- International driver's license requirements
- When you need snow chains in California - and where to get them
- Some simple rules of the road in California
San Francisco Weather Records
The highest recorded temperature in San Francisco was 39°C on July 17, 1988, and June 14, 2000. The lowest was −3°C on December 11, 1932.