Soggy Seattle goes on streak of dry weather


by KING 5 News and the Associated Press

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Updated Saturday, Sep 1 at 12:35 PM

Not too many people are complaining in typically soggy Seattle, but the city is on a surprising run of dry weather.

The gauge at Sea-Tac Airport has gone to the end of August without a drop rain.

If it stays that way through Friday as expected, it'll break the record of 0.01 inches of precipitation, making it the driest August on record.

The record of 0.1 inches was set in 1974.

The current dry spell could also challenge the 51-day record set in 1951. The last rain at the airport was .04 inches on July 22. That's 40 days and counting.

And according to KING 5 meterologist Rich Marriot,  plan on the first ten days of September to be dry.

Seattle Public Utilities said local reservoirs are in good shape, still enjoying the benefits of a wet start to summer and a snowy winter.  But at the Seattle Arboretum, the tree experts say it's so dry that some trees are shutting down for the winter.  And if remains dry, the trees may not show much color when fall arrives.

"It has a decent chance of lasting a bunch into September," said weather service meteorologist Allen Kam, who is based in Seattle. "We could certainly be sneaking up on the 51."


Though the summer has been dry, for the calendar year, precipitation in the city is about 5 inches above normal, Kam said. He added that rain watchers follow the "water year," which starts in October, and on that calendar, Seattle is just about 1 inch above average for this time in the year.

"That brings it whole heck of a lot closer to normal," Kam said.

The city's dry summers are often overlooked because of its rainy reputation, said University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Cliff Mass. Seattle can attribute its damp status to the persistent drizzle and overcast skies that shroud the city much of the rest of the year.

"We are one of the driest places in the country in mid-summer," Mass said. "People don't hear about that but it's true."

Despite the effect on folliage, the dry stretch is just fine for people heading outdoors for Labor Day weekend. The 200,000 people expected to gather by the Space Needle for the annual Bumbershoot Festival, a three-day music and arts fair named after an old-timey word for "umbrella," can expect sunny skies and highs around 70.

"You can't always count on good weather - this is Seattle," said Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust. "This weekend the weather forecast is perfect."

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Reporting by KING 5's Glenn Farley.