Published Tuesday, May 25, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News


Special to the Mercury News

Q.  How can I find out if it's foggy along the San Mateo County coast? Often the forecast and current conditions are clear from Palo Alto to Highway 1. Then you arrive at the beach parking lot, and it's foggy.  Jim Goddard - Palo Alto

A.  I have two suggestions for taking a peek at the beach weather before heading out. Check out one of the various Web cameras or look at weather satellite imagery. For the former, see for Half Moon Bay, and for Santa Cruz. For a view from 22,000 miles up:

Q.  What's the difference in forecast terms between blustery and breezy or windy? Peter D.- Alameda

A.  Like many weather terms, the differences are subtle and often in the eye of the beholder. For example, my idea of cold is different from my family's. The National Weather Service definitions are:
Breezy: winds 15 to 25 mph, usually in otherwise mild weather.
Brisk: winds 15 to 25 mph, during cold weather.
Windy: winds 20 to 30 mph.
Although there is no official definition of blustery, the most common usage is during cold weather when winds are gusty.

Q. Has anyone been injured or killed by a severe hail storm? Michael Ciabattari - Daly City

A. There have been only two known hail fatalities in the United States this century, one in Texas in the '30s, the other in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1979.

Q. Have you read ``Storm'' by George R. Stewart? I did for the first time at age 11 and have four times since. Set in California around 1935, it covers all the interactions of a major storm and its effects statewide. Stan Rhamy - San Jose

A. Absolutely; it's one of my favorites and occupies a prominent spot on my bookshelf. I often recommend it to my students as well as meteorologists new to California. Even though it's more than 50 years old, it's still relevant, noteworthy -- and available in most libraries. While much of the technology has changed, the meteorology and effects of a major winter storm on California's roads, airports, utilities and people are still apropos.

MORE WEATHER ON THE WEB: With the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season one week away, June 1, a good Web site to bookmark is the Navy Research Labs Tropical Cyclone page at It has current satellite imagery for tropical storms worldwide, plus maps of their locations and links to hurricane forecasts.

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