If Only 24 Straight Days Of Rain Meant 12 Weekends In A Row

If Only 24 Straight Days Of Rain Meant 12 Weekends In A Row »Play Video
SEATTLE - We all remember the joke from grade school: What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle? A weekend. Three straight? A holiday weekend.

We're still searching the joke books to come up with what to call over three weeks of it.

Wednesday marked the 24th straight day of measurable rain in Seattle, tying it for the third-longest streak ever. The Dec. 19 start to the streak also means that, true to Seattle form, it rained on every day during the winter holiday break for the area's schools -- but then it kept right on going after school resumed, so "winter break" is no answer to our riddle.

And this hasn't been just the usual Seattle drizzle, we've had some pretty impressive rainfall through the streak -- 14 of the 24 days have been greater than 0.25", and seven of those days were over a half inch.

How's that add up? Through 9 a.m. Wednesday, Seattle has received 11.35" of rain during the streak that began on Dec. 19. That's roughly 31 percent of our annual average of rain in just three weeks!

90-Day Rain Streak? Not Quite

Now, the official record for consecutive days of rain is 33 days set in 1953. Yes, it's just 33.

There is some rumor going around about streak of 90 straight days in the winter of 1998-99. While that was a rainy winter, the longest streak during that time frame was 18 days.

However, the confusion likely stemmed from the report that it did rain on 90 of the 120 days between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28. At the time, several media and wire stories reported, correctly, that those 90 days set the record for most number of rainy days during that period (breaking the record of 87 set in 1953, which is when the consecutive rainy day record was set).

But the 90 days were not consecutive. It was just 90 of 120 days -- or three of every four days had rain.

In fact, it was a full day of sunshine on Nov. 7, 1998 as well as Jan. 2 and Mar. 6 in 1999, so no 90-day rain streaks there.

Still, Is This The Winter Of 98/99, Part II?

While our rain streak shows no sign of stopping anytime soon, we still have a ways to go to catch up to the very soggy winter of 1998-99. While they eventually had those 90 of 120 days with rain, we're a little behind that pace.

So far, we've had 46 days of rain in the 71 days since Nov. 1 (so, about 2 of every 3 days have been rainy) -- and don't forget, that includes two dry streaks of over a week -- one each in November and December.

As for amount of rain, 98-99 had 34.39" of total rain in those four aforementioned months. So far, as of Tuesday, we're approaching 16.5" of rain since Nov. 1, so we'd need to stay very wet to catch up.

How Does Our Streak Compare?

We had one inquisitive reader ask what the world record is for rainy streaks, or at least compare to other cities. I've found no one source for this, but some Google research shows that Philadelphia's record is 12 days (although that counts "trace" amounts, which our streak does not, so it's a little apples/oranges there.) and Minneapolis' streak is 10 straight. (So while they snicker at our freaking out over 2" of snow, I'll bet they freak out over five days of rain :) )

But 23 days or 33 days or whatever our streak ends up being will pale in comparison to the consecutive rainy day champ: Ketchikan, Alaska. Their record for consecutive days with rain is a whopping 101 days! Not coincidentally, that was set in 1953 -- the same year our record is from.

But for us to get to 101? It'd have to keep raining every day until April.

Rain Not The Only Streak Going

Sure, the rain gets all the glamour, but don't forget that we have an equally impressive temperature streak going as well -- a streak of temperature streaks, actually.

On Nov. 11, the high temperature was only 47 degrees. That's not too strange, but that day began a streak of 36 days where our high temperature was at or below normal. It wasn't until Dec. 17th that we were back above.

Of course, that started its own streak of days *above* normal -- and every day since has been warmer than normal. That 25-day streak remains active through Tuesday.

How Are The Locals Handling It?

A second joke around here is that you can easily spot the tourists around here -- they're the ones carrying umbrellas. But even seasoned Puget Sound veterans can't be blamed for perhaps succumbing to the temptation of carrying an umbrella. I mean, you can only use so much hair gel :)

So, how are you handling the persistent gray, rainy days? Is 23 days of rain still greeted with a Seattle shrug? Or is the rain testing even the most ardent Puget Sounders' patience?

Here's some of the responses we've had so far:

  • "I moved to Seattle specifically for the rain. This doesn't bother me one bit. Now if the temps would just drop low enough for a good snowstorm, I'd be absolutely happy." -- Anonymous.

  • "A neighbor once told me: 'In Norway we have a saying: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.' It's true, especially here in the Northwest. A few purchases at REI, and you're ready to ride your bike, go for a walk, work in the yard, take the canoe out.

    "Give me rainy, windy, warm winters anytime over those weeks of 'good' winter weather: inversion, burn bans, stagnant air, pollution, freezing fog." -- Tom Jewell.

  • "I was born in Seattle and people say I should be used to it, but I'm not. It's been 20 years or so and I still hate the rain." -- Anonymous.

  • "These dark days are how we pay for our green beauty when the light is long." -- Linda Myers

  • "I can handle the rain just fine but some of its effects can be difficult to deal with. A prime example happened this weekend as I went to take down the Christmas lights. Under normal conditions, my ladder is just tall enough for me to reach the second story of my house. However, with all this rain, when I put the ladder up to take the lights down, it sunk into the yard by about three inches forcing me to stretch precariously to get the lights off the second story." -- Scott Amsden

  • "I am a distance runner; so 23 straight days of rain is darn inconvenient. I'd rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than run indoors on a 'dreadmill' so I just suck it up and run outside. That's what they make Gore-Tex for." -- L. Lisa Lawrence.

  • "For those of you not enjoying the Pacific Northwest for what it is, here's a helpful hint: Get onto I-5 southbound, and just keep driving..." -- Lyle Harvey.

  • "So this rain may be a curse to some, but I think we should look on the bright side. Last year was a drought. The mountains are getting plenty of snow now and the water shortage is more bearable... It is not often that in Washington when you stand out in the rain you actually get wet. The spring payoff will be beautiful." -- Christina Seals.

  • "I am very tired of the rain, it really wears you out! ... All I kept thinking was that there has been so much damage from the rain with mud slides and rivers cresting some people can’t get to work then they don’t get paid, some people are getting flooded out of their homes and losing their personal property." -- Patty.

  • "I would suggest a stretch like this be referred to as 'The Clearances' -- a semi-annual event where in the Pacific 'Northwet' strives to separate the weak from the strong; the true Northwesterner from the wimpier import; those who see no problem in 6 months of grey, where the water and the sky are the same color, from those who made the mistake of visiting in the summer - fell in love with the beauty - and moved here believing our stories of rain and grey skies to be a myth, designed to ward off invaders.

    "Never fear, the sky will clear. On July 5th." -- Kristine Williams.

  • "I am a transplant from Kansas, and the rain streak hasn’t bothered me one bit. I will gladly trade some rain for below freezing temperatures with ice storms and several inches of snow one day and 50 degree temps the next. The mild winter here is great. Besides, if it’s raining in Seattle, chances are it’s snowing in the mountains." -- Shawn Dillon.

  • "Being a skier from the Northwest, it's not rain, it's just really wet snow." -- Riley Shephard

  • "I love the rain! Winter isn't supposed to be about sunny days -- it's about the gloom and the clouds and yes, here in western WA, its about the rain! Keep the rain coming, I don't want to see sun until March!

    As for what to call 23 straight days of rain? I like to call it the "how to get people to move back to CA" weather pattern!" -- Lisa Johansen.

    Send me your story or thoughts, or even your best Seattle rain joke at scotts@komotv.com and I'll post some of the best ones here or in a separate story. You can also send me your suggestions of what to call 23 straight days of rain in Seattle, and I'm still taking suggestions on other ways to say it'll rain.

    When Will The Rain End?

    The long-range forecast keeps rain every day through the weekend, meaning our streak has a chance to reach 30 days or more.

    So, what do you call 30 straight days of rain in Seattle? Precipitanuary? Rainember? Whatever it's called, I vote next time we take the entire time off :)

    Or, as the other joke goes, when the visitor from Arizona asked the little kid if it ever stops raining in Seattle and the kid replied, "How should I know? I'm only six."

    Rain Streak Watch

    Tuesday was the 23rd consecutive day with measurable rain in Seattle.

    This makes it the fourth-longest all-time rainy streak in Seattle. Here's the Top 5 rainiest streaks:

    • #1 - 33 days from Jan. 6 - Feb. 7, 1953
    • #2 - 25 days from Jan. 28 - Feb. 21, 1961
    • #3 - 24 days from Nov. 10 - Dec. 3, 1953
    • #4 - 23 days from Dec. 19, 2005 - Jan. 10, 2006 (current)
    • #5 - 22 days from Dec. 18, 1964 - Jan. 8, 1965