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:
"Give me rainy, windy, warm winters anytime over those weeks of 'good' winter weather: inversion, burn bans, stagnant air, pollution, freezing fog." -- Tom Jewell.
"Never fear, the sky will clear. On July 5th." -- Kristine Williams.
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 email@example.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