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Another drizzly Saturday? Why San Francisco keeps having wet weekends

A person in a swimsuit sits by the sea; a foggy city skyline with a bridge lurks in the background.
The calendar says it's May, but if you were looking to head outdoors on Saturday, you are going to have to deal with some rain. | Source: Paul Chinn/SF Chronicle/Getty Images

It’s raining today, which is a bummer because today’s a Saturday.

If you were hoping to throw on a Princess Leia costume and dance at the How Weird Street Faire, it’s been postponed. The Force may not be with us, but a late-season low-pressure system will be.

And if it feels like the rain just keeps wrecking weekend after weekend, that’s because it has, all season long.

In April, every bit of measurable precipitation San Francisco recorded fell on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. There were five weekends in March, and it rained over three of them. 

The rain gods were kinder in February, dumping moisture on us only every other weekend. In January, three weekends out of four were drizzly. How about December? Three out of five. November, two out of four.

The first time it rained all season was way back on Sept. 30. To be fair, that was a measly 0.02 inches—but yep, it was a Sunday. 

A woman holding an umbrella walks her dog in the rain.
Sabrina Lem holds an umbrella while walking a dog in the rain along Balboa Street in San Francisco on Saturday. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

Granted, this winter was a lot gentler than the previous winter’s parade of destructive atmospheric rivers. But the current weather pattern feels more irritating somehow, like a Murphy’s law of meteorology.

Has San Francisco been mildly cursed? Must Mother Nature be appeased? 

“Perception is definitely reality,” said ABC7 meteorologist Drew Tuma. “You’re not wrong. The majority of our weekends so far have featured rain, and it kind of stings.”

Anyone hungering for a scientific explanation for this weather cycle is in for disappointment. We’re just having a run of bad luck.

“Mother Nature can fall into these weird patterns. Last March, every Tuesday we had a wind event,” Tuma said. “I know it sucks, but unfortunately, there’s no scientific reason.”

Of course, there’s another explanation why this perfectly ordinary rainstorm feels, well, unfair. Several years of drought followed by last year’s abnormally wet weather may have shaken up many people’s idea of a “normal” San Francisco winter. And, statistically speaking, this hasn’t been a hugely wet year. As of May 3, downtown has recorded just under 25 inches of rain since July 1, only about 10% more than our annual average of 22.89 inches.

Just because it’s May doesn’t mean we’re entitled to boundless sunshine, either. “Last year, we had a pretty big rainmaker in early May,” Tuma said. “May is pretty much the last month of spring that we could see a decent storm. It is very common to get rain in May.” 

Common, sure. Welcome? Definitely not.

Astrid Kane can be reached at