How Rain is Part of Los Angeles Culture

By Kevin Wilkerson, Culture With Travel California Correspondent & Publisher Of

rain as part of los angeles cultureIt’s raining in Los Angeles as I write this, and that means chaos is happening all over the city.

People are trapped in their cars, businesses are suffering and event planners are scrambling to save a disaster.

We don’t handle rain very well in L.A. It’s like one of those paralyzing snow blizzards that hits the USA’s East Coast each winter. It’s dreaded when it’s predicted and once it arrives, it makes a complete mess of things.

Rain brings Los Angeles to a standstill. Literally. Traffic is bad enough but throw in wet roads and a shower coming from the sky, and you might as well pitch a tent in your car. That’s one reason we don’t venture out when it’s wet.

foggy day los angeles cultureWhen it rains, we stay at home. We don’t go shopping, out to the bars or even to events. This particular weekend, Formula Drifting is in Long Beach. This is a very interesting form of motorsports in which souped-up passenger cars slide – or drift – through the turns. Normally the grandstands would be packed for it but with rain forecast on both days, only the die-hards will attend.

We don’t even handle clouds very well. When it’s overcast, we simply lack the motivation to move. We stay inside, and text messages among friends go something like this: “it’s crappy outside. I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m bored.”

There is one group, however, who loves it when it rains in Los Angeles: the TV weather people. This is about the only time they get to talk about actual weather conditions and their producers eat it up, devoting half their newscasts to “Storm Watch 2016!” Reporters are sent all over town to talk about rain and cameramen take shots of water rushing through storm drains and down the concrete LA River (yes, Los Angeles has a concrete river).

If you were to watch the L.A. news from a distance while it’s raining, you would think we’re experiencing the equivalent of the Johnstown Flood. All this is because it rarely rains here. Los Angeles averages 325 days of sunshine a year. The professional baseball team, the Dodgers, haven’t had a rainout in 16 years and just 17 in the 58-year history of Dodger Stadium.

umbrella and los angeles cultureIt’s so sunny that we know exactly where we keep our dozen pairs of sunglasses but can’t ever remember where we put our umbrella – let alone if we even have one – and go tossing things around in the closet looking for something water-repelling to wear. We usually emerge with an old, worn hat we forgot we owned and a jacket that’s two sizes too small. For good measure we also put on our sunglasses, partly out of habit and partly because we’re trained to expect the sun will pop back out at any moment.

What’s really interesting about all this is that most people who live in Los Angeles have come from somewhere else, places where rain was simply a part of the normal weather pattern. But once we get out here, our brain gets absorbed into all this sunshine and we lose the ability to prepare for and deal with rain.

beach-786864_640Of course, this situation only only happens four or five times a year and rarely for more than a day at a time. Then it’s back to the standard routine of day after day, week after week and – now that we are headed into summer – month after month of that bright Los Angeles sunshine. And that is precisely the way we like it.

Kevin Wilkerson never did like rain, which is one reason he moved to Los Angeles in the first place.

He publishes the website and the beach lifestyle blog

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