June Gloom or June Glow?
Life, like the seasons, is full of trade-offs that have unexpected benefits
By Logan Nakyanzi Pollard 06/14/2012
You know what time of year it is when the beautiful purple jacarandas are blooming and June Gloom is in full effect.
According to Eric Boldt, an LA-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service, there’s no way to predict what kind of “gloom,” if any, there will be during this one month of the year.
So what is June Gloom, anyway?
Typically, May and June are fairly cloudy, as we transition out of winter. Boldt says, “When we get some good winds out of the northwest — a Catalina eddy (a weather pattern localized near Santa Catalina Island) may form over the ocean. The wind, combined with that low-pressure system, helps lift moisture into the marine layer (in this case, the air mass over the ocean) to form clouds. This is some 1,000-foot-deep layer or more of atmosphere that the winds push up,” Boldt explains.
This forms the low clouds that we experience as overcast skies on those mornings and afternoons, frequently in May and often in June.
Because Pasadena is at a higher elevation, it doesn’t see that much cloud cover, “but if that marine layer gets deep enough, like 2,000-feet deep, you will,” Boldt says.
Even up here, however, some people feel the deleterious effects of the weather change. Dr. Daryoush Jamal of Pasadena, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at USC who treats people for depression in private practice and at Huntington Hospital, notes that he sees more patients impacted by the weather at this time of year.
“You do see a peak in the number, even among those who come in and say, ‘For the last week or two weeks it’s been a little bit more cumbersome. I’ve been lower.’ A lot of times I have to remind them that the weather does make a difference and that they would do better if they had more illumination in their living space and maybe didn’t wake up as early,” Jamal says.
For those dealing with a psychological condition already, “that requires treatment,” he says. These are people who often suffer from seasonal affective disorders throughout the year, especially during winter months.
But to ameliorate everyday symptoms, like a change in appetite or an inability to sleep, Jamal advises people to get more light and more sun. Work schedules permitting, waking up a little later allows people to avoid a dark or dreary morning. He also suggests melatonin (the over-the-counter hormone widely used to regulate sleep cycles) as an aid.
For people who are stable, Jamal advises them to just ride it out.
“What you’re experiencing is a normal phenomenon. Normal sadness is going to happen,” he says.
And, like the doctor says, look on the bright side. The cloud cover does offer relief from the blazing summer sun, as Boldt observes.
“There are trade-offs,” Boldt says. We can suffer clouds “for a little while during the year.”
A friend in Ireland once told me the rain and clouds so common to her homeland were good for skin. This seemed almost plausible to me, especially since she was telling me this as we were trudging across a field, our feet wet, a light mist covering everything, steps away from shelter and a warm cup of tea.
Maybe we can start calling the effects of this time of year June Glow.
For more information about clinical depression, visit http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000945.htm.