Published Tuesday, July 29, 2003 in the San Jose Mercury News

Weather Corner
From Vivaldi concertos to pop tunes, songs take a turn for the weather

If you walk outside on a rainy day, do you find yourself whistling ``Singin' in the Rain'' just like Gene Kelly or ``Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head'' by B.J. Thomas? Or do you sing ``Somewhere Over The Rainbow,'' the song made famous by Judy Garland, when you see that colorful arc on the horizon? Weather elements are popular in song titles, in song lyrics and as themes in songs from every genre.

One of the earlier pieces of work that featured weather was ``The Four Seasons'' by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi in 1725. These four concertos range from the light airy ``Spring'' concerto to the heavier ``Winter'' concerto, and they accompany four sonnets about the seasons, purportedly written by Vivaldi. These four familiar tunes are even available as ring tones for cellular phone users.

Weather appears in all types of music, from pop standards and folk songs to rock and musicals, usually to set a mood or as similes for various moods. The weather elements that appear to be the most popular are stormy conditions. Consider ``Rain, Pt. 2'' by Madonna, ``Let It Rain'' by Eric Clapton, ``Wish It Would Rain'' by The Temptations, ``Only Happy When It Rains'' by Garbage, the nursery rhyme ``Itsy Bitsy Spider'' and many others.

Fair weather is also prominent: ``Here Comes the Sun'' and ``I Will Follow the Sun,'' both by the Beatles, ``Oh, What A Beautiful Morning'' from the musical ``Oklahoma!'' and ``Red Red Sun'' by INXS. All four seasons have been featured by singers and composers ranging from Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys. Bob Dylan put gusty conditions to sheet music with his ``Blowin' In The Wind,'' and went even broader with one of his most famous lines -- ``You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.''

There are literally hundreds of songs where weather is an element, and everyone seems to have a favorite tune. Special thanks to Mary Ashley of Palo Alto for her many contributions and to the ``Weather Music'' Web site, run by Dr. Perry Samson at University of Michigan, at

Q During what season or month can you see the low fog at the Marin headlands while still seeing the top of the Golden Gate Bridge? Cindy Webb - Antelope

A The best meteorological scenario for the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge's 746-foot-high towers to be above the fog is immediately following a Bay Area heat wave. At these times, high pressure squishes the fog near the Earth's surface as it streams back into San Francisco Bay.

Q Do the weather forecasters on all the different TV stations each make up their own separate forecast from available data, or are they all reading minor variations of the ``official'' forecast from the National Weather Service?  Don Gentner - Palo Alto

A The starting point for almost all meteorologists is the computer model data from the National Weather Service simulations of the atmosphere. It is the interpretation of this data that can mean a difference in individual forecasts. Thus, most forecasts generally resemble those of the NWS.

Q I have been running on Sunday mornings in Woodside with friends for about 12 years. During the winter, we have noticed that the rain almost always subsides or even stops about 7 a.m., giving us a window to run without getting soaked. The rain then picks up again about 8:30. This seems to be true even during large storms. I don't think that this is pure chance. Can you explain why this is happening? Tim Revak - Los Altos

A The topic of the temporal variability of rainfall in the Bay Area has been studied, and it does not show a statistical bias toward a particular time of day. Consequently, I must conclude that you and your running mates are just lucky in choosing your run times.

Jan Null, founder of Golden Gate Weather Services, is a retired lead forecaster with the National Weather Service. Send questions to him c/o Weather Corner, San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190. You also can telephone questions at (510) 657-2246, fax them to (510) 315-3015 or e-mail them to or fill out a form online at