Life: San Francisco with approaching fog

The breeze: strong. The air: fresh.

I love living here so very much, and appreciate my luck at having grown up here nearly every day.

The City, the Bay, the Pacific Ocean, the community, the weather, the coffee, the cultures, the economy, the hills, the parks, the food, even the fog…

It’s so good to be here.

Climate Emergency Life: Smoke Forecasts

In easier times, we look at the weather forecasts before going out. With the climate crisis making itself more apparent, now now also check smoke forecasts! Our environmental agencies have modeling just for this, and it is smartphone-friendly.

I regularly use or to know if I need to wear a particulate filtering mask. These services are provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Service (NPS), NASA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and host of local agencies.

In recent days, the smoke coverage in satellite photos has been alarming, and sunlight has had a strangely yellow tinge to it. That’s is caused by high level smoke, but we also need to know if the smoke is close to the ground, because then we have to take precautions for our breathing and overall health. Waiting to smell it isn’t enough – it may come and go, and catch us unprepared.

The National Weather Service delivers on this surface smoke forecasting need!

I recommend following your local National Weather Service office on Twitter. Mine is NWS Bay Area, and they do a fantastic job!

News: Smoke Darkens Sky Across California

We had a dark day on September 9th, and I’m still seeing amazing photos of it. My own neighborhood was covered in fog, so I couldn’t see far in the orange twilight that dominated the day, caused by smoke high in our atmosphere.

Others beyond the fog line did a lot with the view! I’ll share some of their great work, linked back to the source.


What #SanFrancisco looks like almost 2 hours after sunrise. #CaliforniaFires


Life on Mars 🪐#OrangeSky

And video:

News: My State is Still Burning

It smells like wood smoke. It… almost always smells like wood smoke now.

Who texts me most frequently? Alert SF, the SF Department of Emergency Management notification system.

Sometimes Alert SF texts to let me know that the air is safe to breathe, which is my hint to air out the house and run any quick errands before the smoke returns.

It’s a strange way to live.


More than 12,400 firefighters are continuing to battle 22 major wildfires. CAL FIRE has increased staffing in preparation for critical fire weather in multiple areas of the State.The latest numbers on the August #LightningSiege. More information at:

Our firefighters are AMAZING.

Oh! Speaking of our thousands of heroic firefighters: our incarcerated firefighters (!) have been risking their lives to save others by getting certified and successfully performing wildfire firefighting duty during their prison sentences. They will finally be permitted to do this essential public service work after incarceration AND have their records cleared if California Assembly Bill 2147 reaches the governor’s desk. (Newsweek story here. It has passed in the Assembly, and there are some alignments happening with the state Senate, according to this data at Various violent offenders are excluded from qualifying for the program.)

This bill corrects an otherwise exploitative practice – I’ve read elsewhere that they were paid about $3/day for their dangerous work (!), and were disqualified from working in the firefighting profession in which they are sorely needed due to their convictions. This corrective bill should pass!

News: California is on fire

Wildfire information from CalFire, shared from their Twitter feed.

Last weekend there was a thunderstorm, a PROPER one, the first we’ve had in more than a decade, easily. It impressed me. I thought it was novel.

It started more than 600 fires here in California.

Stepping outside when the smoke moves in midday is like standing over a campfire. Directly over a campfire.

This is… distracting. I know several people living near-ish to the fire; the two that are closest are the most modest about it, but are quite vigilant and have their things packed if they need to evacuate.

It’s a distraction from constantly read about the pandemic to constantly read about the fires, but another disaster was not exactly the distraction I was hoping for.

Here are some favorite resources for fire monitoring, in the order I rely on them:

National Weather Service Bay Area on Twitter ( red flag warnings, photos, video links

CalFire on Twitter ( includes posted reports, evacuation orders, and information sharing across federal, state, and local fire authorities. If you don’t like Twitter, you can also go to instead.

Fire and Smoke Map from the source of the graphic below, filled with primary-colored geometric shapes indicating sensors and smoke readings. It’s also worth noting that is great for air quality information generally.

SUBSCRIPTION TEXT ALERT TOOLS: I receive text alerts from my city & county emergency services organizations ( (Everbridge) and, which are timely and useful, if frequent. If you don’t know your county emergency text alerts agency and you are here in California, you can look it up at (though the Stanislaus County link is wrong, so click here instead).

What a week. Image from during a relatively good air quality moment in the evening for my region. I did say relatively!

News: State Kindness in the time of Pandemics

I haven’t mentioned it before, but my home state has also participated in supporting not only New York, but other states that need ventilators by loaning out 500 to those states that need them.

Early last month, the San Francisco Chronicle’s article, California lending 500 ventilators to distribute to hardest-hit states by Alexei Koseff (April 6, 2020), had some good quotes about states doing right by each other, including a report on Oregon’s loan of 140 ventilators to NYC, and Washington’s return of those it borrowed from the federal government.

The quotes I like are:

“I wish I could solve that for everybody, and to the extent we can, we will,” Newsom said. “This is the state of California. We have an abundant mind-set and we’re a well-resourced state.”

I like the implication that, because we do well, we SHOULD use our position to help others. (The article notes that our early prevention efforts have been successful enough for us to step in for the later-acting states.)


“We’re Americans, first and foremost,” he said. “As a nation-state, we can do certain things, where we can punch above our weight. We carry a big weight. But to the extent that other Americans need our support, our largesse, to the extent that we have the resources, we’re going to be there for as many people as we possibly can.”

This acknowledges our size and strengths – we are a state with a bigger economy than the UK, India, or France the last time I checked (2018 in Business Insider and currently in Wikipedia’s Economy of California article), and this gives us the opportunity to be a force for good.

The world needs more forces for good.