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Oh, the weather outside is frightful ... everywhere but here. In Chicago, the forecast high temperature for Thursday is 10 degrees, with a wind chill factor of -15. And in New York City, where the wind chill was -12 Wednesday morning, there were 111/2 inches of sludge on the ground, following a mammoth snowstorm that also dumped more than 15 inches on New Jersey.

Meanwhile, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, every weekend in January has looked like spring break, with people in shorts and tank tops crowding onto double the usual number of rides open this month. "It definitely feels more like a weekend in May," said Boardwalk spokesman Chris Reyes. "It's hard to remember sometimes it's really January."

The worse the weather gets for the rest of the country, the better it seems to get here -- although it's probably not a good idea to say "better" to a Central Valley farmer whose crops are wilting in the fields. A color-coded precipitation map that uses red to highlight areas suffering drought was released recently by climatologists at the University of Nebraska, and for once in its tree-hugging, latte-loving life, California was one of the biggest, reddest states in the country. People may be riding the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz, but they don't need one for the rain barrel in Fresno.


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In Oakland, Eddie Ortega tries to remain respectfully subdued about the drought that has caused his exterior house painting business, Charmed Painting, to live up to its name. During what is customarily his slowest month, he said he has been getting the same volume of work that he would normally only get during peak summer months. And Ortega feels guilty about that -- "up to a point," he said. "Unfortunately, we need the rain."

This is the classic California Precipitation Genuflect, which is typically performed in open toe shoes -- preferably flip-flops. But Ortega can only maintain his gloomy mien for so long, then a sunny disposition breaks through the clouds. "Business is business," he said, "and it's not like they're rationing water in the cities yet. We've got two exteriors finishing up this week, and we've got two more for next week. This season has been fantastic for us. We're thrilled."

Even at the National Weather Service in Monterey, the forecasters have experienced some difficulty maintaining the party line about how badly we need rain. "Some people are really happy about it," said meteorologist Austin Cross, "especially people pouring concrete or fixing roofs. For them, you couldn't have a better January." Cross was planning to have his home painted in June. "But now it's like, why wait?" he said. "Let's do it now."

"How is it our fault that we don't have rain?" asked Nicole Selves of Campbell. She said she was "sad" about the drought and all, but that hasn't stopped her from going to the beach on her days off. "It's still too cold for me to go in the water," she said. "But I've got a tan."

Charlene Kim complained Tuesday that her Campbell home "has been a little chilly" lately, which would put her among the rare minority of California dwellers not calling friends and relations in snowier parts of the country to gloat about how warm it's been here. And it has.

The Bay Area is headed for the warmest January on record if current temperatures continue, according to meteorologist Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services. The average maximum temperature in San Jose this month is 65.6 degrees, which would shatter the old record by 7.5 degrees. San Francisco has been equally toasty. "We love to share that with our friends back East," confided Null, who also noted that our balmy weather -- caused by a freakish ridge of high pressure -- actually is causing the mess the rest of the country is experiencing.

"When we get a ridge, they have a trough," he explained. "When we have good weather, they're going to have bad weather." We are the yin to their yang, with highs in Oakland and San Jose expected to climb through the rest of the week, reaching the low 70s by Sunday.

Hellooooooooo, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The weather out here is delightful. And we feel just awful about it. Hahahahaha.

Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004. Follow him at twitter.com/BruceNewmanTwit.