Why?

Why is this weather station on this web site? I can get the Fortuna weather on the Weather Channel or at accuweather.com at any time, so... why bother?

Actually, it's because of FIDO and a decision that the United States Navy made in 1941.

Yeah, right, you went to all this trouble to put up a weather station because of something that happened over sixty years ago... uhh, did you say something about a dog?

Pull up a chair, my friend.

Why Fortuna's weather is different.
Fortuna, seven miles from the Pacific Ocean, also the Gateway to the Redwood Coast of California, is known as 'Sunny Fortuna' because the city is blessed with several bluffs that block the afternoon Pacific Ocean wind. Compared to nearby Eureka and Arcata, Fortuna is practically on the tropical side, with the daytime weather much sunnier and up to fifteen degrees warmer!

Fortuna from the West
Fortuna lies inside that little circle. This view is towards the North, the prevailing wind comes from out of the top left corner.
 - Image courtesy of Dr. William Bowen - California Geographical Survey.

 

Fortuna's website.
A couple of years ago, Fortuna put up this touristy web site that brags about Fortuna and the giant redwoods, and what a great place it is to visit, and how much the locals love their weather.

OK, c'mon, c'mon, what about that dog?

Shush, I'm getting there. This friendly weather makes for a friendly town. The local citizenry and visitors to Fortuna enjoy a large number of outdoor festivals including the Annual Rodeo, Redwood Autorama, Logging Competition, Civil War Days, Apple Harvest and others; in fact, bring up a subject and someone will probably think up a way to make a festival of it. What, a Garlic Festival? Uh, let's see, there's nothing scheduled for the third weekend of August, how about...? 

US Navy research on fog in Humboldt County.
Now, remember the US NAVY back there in 1941? They decided they needed a place to experiment with some fancy machines that got rid of the fog (Fog, Intensive, Dispersal Of) so they could land their planes, and there was this coastal strip near McKinleyville in Humboldt County that had the highest number of foggy days per year in all of California! It was perfect!

The Navy built an air station and spent a number of years working with the FIDO project, later turning the place over to American Airlines, who worked with the fog problem for a few more years. They donated the air station to the Humboldt County Department of Aviation, which put in a bunch of improvements. It is now the Eureka/Arcata Airport, the major airport in Humboldt County. Since it's next to the ocean, the United States Coast Guard has their Search and Rescue helicopter base there, too.

Factoid. The Eureka/Arcata Airport is neither in Eureka nor Arcata. It's in McKinleyville. However, it is an Airport.

Eureka/Arcata Airport's weather versus Fortuna's weather.
Those nice folks at the weather bureau like to place their instruments at the airports. Great idea. However, that also means that the real time weather that shows up on the Internet is actually the local weather at that foggy Eureka/Arcata Airport an hour's drive north of Fortuna.

Hey, the light's going on, I'm think I'm starting to get the drift here!

Right! Here's this web site extolling the virtues of Sunny Fortuna; yet the online weather services, quoting the Eureka/Arcata Airport station data, might indicate that it's a cold and foggy day when it's really a nice warm and sunny Fortuna afternoon. 

Next: What to do, what to do?

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