2006: The craziest year ever for weather?

2006: The craziest year ever for weather?
SEATTLE - We write up these little end-of-the-year "Weather in review" articles at the end of every year, but in compiling this year's list, it just blew me away at just how crazy the weather was this year. We started with the 27-day rain streak that made Seattle the punch line in a lot of national jokes.  At the time, January ranked as the third wettest month ever, a position it would hold for all of 10 months.

A windstorm rolled through in February that seemed pretty strong, knocking out power to over 200,000 people and closing the 520 Bridge for the first time in 7 years -- only to be topped by an even stronger one in December.

We went into the deep freeze in mid-February, before then sweltering through one of the hottest heat waves in recent memory in late July that saw Seattle have four days over 90 degrees.  That was part of the second-driest summer on record, with Seattle only getting 0.08" of rain between mid June and the start of September.

Oh, but did Mother Nature ever make up for that this fall, with a November that will go down as one of the stormiest months in Seattle's history.  Between record floods early in the month that saw 12 rivers reach all-time record crest levels, to a sizeable windstorm in mid November, topped off with a snow and ice storm at the end of the month that brought as much as 2 feet of snow to some spots in western Washington, and made for one of, if not the, longest commutes in the region's history.  

Seattle finished the month with 15.63" of rain -- the most rain ever recorded in any month in Seattle's history.

Just how busy was it? Amidst all the meteorological records that need to be rewritten, the National Weather Service shattered their record for most media interview requests in a month with 714.

We got a brief break at the start of December, before a series of increasingly-stronger windstorms hit the week of December 11, culminating the night of Dec. 14 with arguably the most powerful windstorm since the Columbus Day storm of 1962 and rivaling the Inauguration Day Storm of Jan. 20, 1993.  Over 1.1 million people lost power, as winds gusted as high as 90 mph along the coast and 70 mph in the Puget Sound area. Sea-Tac Airport recorded an all-time record gust of 69 mph. There were 13 deaths related to that storm -- 7 of which were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The year finished thankfully calm -- with even some long-forgotten sunshine. In fact, Dec. 27th was the first sunny day in Seattle since Halloween.

Overall, Seattle set 7 record highs and tied another, and set one record low and tied another.  We've linked below to all of the weather-related news articles to keep a good historical archive of the year that was.

Let's hope 2007's article is somewhat shorter :)

RECAP OF 2006:


The year began on wet note -- not surprising since it had rained on the previous 14 days as well.  But the rain just kept on coming...and coming... for weeks on end.  Seattle ended up with a streak of 27 consecutive days with measurable rain -- the second longest streak ever. Other cities across the Puget Sound area stretched over 30 days.

Jan 10: If only 24 straight days of rain meant 12 weekends in a row.

Jan 12: No Rest For The Dreary

Jan 13: Setting the record(s) straight on the rainy streaks

Renton neighborhood covered in mud

Jan 15: Rain Streak Ends, But New Streak Begins Monday:

Jan 16: Setting the rain streak record(s) straight -- again

Jan 17: More weather records than you can shake a stick at:

Jan 28: Heavy rainfall of up to 3 inches in the wake of an extended period of wet weather for nearly a month resulted in landslides at 8 locations along SR-112 west of Port Angeles, 2 feet of water in the lower part of the Port Angeles harbor town hall and a half dozen Olympia area homes had flooded basements. Total damage estimates were close to $330,000.

We finally dried out everywhere on Jan. 30, ending all the rain streaks that were still going.

Jan 30: The Rain Streaks (All Of Them!) Are Finally Over

After a dry day everywhere on Jan. 30 and all eyes focused on Detroit for the Seahawks' first ever Super Bowl appearance, Mother Nature creeps back into the news with another storm that brought wind, rain, and even some snow.

Jan 31: Mother Nature Opens Up Entire Weather Playbook


The calendar mercifully turns to February and what was then the third-wettest month ever came to an end. Seattle finished with 11.65" of rain for the month, and just over 18" going back to when the wet pattern began in mid-December. Shelton had over 36" of rain in 6 weeks -- about Seattle's annual average.

Feb 1:  Soggy January comes to an end

The break lasted all of three days, as another windstorm pummeled the area on Feb. 4th. Winds hit 50-60 mph in the central Puget Sound area, and as high as 78 mph in Sedro-Woolley, 68 mph on Whidbey Island, and 64 mph in Mount Vernon. The strong winds closed the 520 Floating Bridge for the first time in 7 years.

Feb 4: Powerful windstorm batters Western Washington

Then, a week later, Mother Nature realized we hadn't had a good east-wind foothill windstorm in a while. Winds blew as high as 60 mph in most foothill locations, with an estimated 70 mph gust in Cumberland.

Feb 10: You Don't Need Stormy Weather For Stormy Weather

Snow fans got a nice little Valentine's Day present as cold air brought a little snow in some spots:

Feb 13: Snow Fans To Mother Nature: Be Mine

A bigger push of arctic air moved in for the middle of the month. The first day of cold weather snapped a strange streak of 59 straight days of above-normal temperatures.  Temperatures then plummeted into the single digits in some spots, making morning commutes a real challenge. Marysville dropped to a bone-chilling 6 degrees, while Sedro-Woolley dropped to 10, Arlington to 12, and Bremerton and Renton to 16.

In between, a windstorm brought gusts as high as 40-50 mph, making for some rather chilly wind chills.

Feb 15: 59 Days Later, Cold Air Finally Arrives!

Feb 17: Chilly Winds Knock Out Power To Thousands

Feb 18: Brrr! Western Washington Goes Into The Deep Freeze

Feb 24: Drivers Can't Get No Solid Traction


Hey, it's been nearly a week without much weather. How about another windstorm?

Mar 2: Gusty Winds Knock Out Power To Thousands

And another!

Mar 8: Latest Winter Storm Is Quite A Doozy!

Now, let's toss in some snow!

Mar 9: First Wind, Then A Little Snow:


What? The calendar says spring? But Mother Nature is having too much fun with winter!

April 29: Snow? On April 29th?


Snow on April 29th, and two weeks later, we're talking heat wave. Temperatures reached the 80s in most spots -- and even the low 90s toward the hills.  That would eventually seem cool once we got into the heart of summer.

May 15: Weather Records 'All Shook Up' Over Being Broken


There was still one weather icon that had gone unused the year -- the tornado. Oops, cross that one off the list too:

June 16: Weak Tornado Touches Down Near Sultan

We then turned up the heat another notch, with temperatures reaching the upper 80s and low 90s across the area, shattering some records.

June 25: Surplus Of Summer Sun Sets Seattle Sizzling komotv.com/news/archive/4190006.html

June 25: One Record Down, Second Scorcher To Go

June 26: Another Record Bites The Dust


We take June's heat wave and then do one better, with one of the longer and hotter heat waves in recent history. Seattle had three consecutive days at 95 or hotter for just the second time ever. The city reached 97, 96 and then 95. Bellevue hit 99 on two consecutive days, while Olympia hit its 4th hottest temperature ever at 101.  (It could have been worse. Eastern Washington was pushing 110. Pasco hit 112.)

July 20: Smooth Move On The Heat Wave, Mother Nature

July 21: Dot Gone It, It's Hot!

July 22: Friday: Phoenix. Saturday: Atlanta. Sunday? Back to Phoenix

July 23: Mother Nature Pulls Off Heat Wave Hat Trick

Seattle darn near broke another all-time record -- the warmest night ever recorded. The morning of July 24th, the temperature only dropped to 70 degrees, which would have made it the warmest low temperature ever. But! Some cooler air moved that night, and just before midnight, the temperature dropped to 65, setting that as the official low temperature and pulling or "warmest night ever" record off the board.

July 24: It's Even Warm At Night, But Rarely This Warm


Bo-ring! At the time, we were thinking "Gee, it'd be nice to have some weather to forecast. This constant sunny and warm is pretty boring."  We apologize now for obviously tempting fate.

August was one of the drier months ever, garnering only 0.02" of rain.  Combined with our dry July (0.06") and it was the second-driest July-August on record.

Aug. 25: Seattle Streaks Toward Another Weather Record:


Just one last heat wave for Bumbershoot, and then a pretty quite month:

Sept. 2: Bumbershoot? Well, Maybe To Provide A Little Shade


Did this month even happen? About the only thing of note was that it was dry on Halloween -- a rare occurrence. It was even sunny. Little did we know it'd be the last sunny day we'd see for two months.


You think this article is long now? Imagine had we made an entry for every event in November? You'd get carpal tunnel syndrome just from scrolling down that far. So to save scrolling on your end, and more typing on mine, I've just linked to the "November in Review" article I wrote on Dec. 1st:

A Look back On The Stormiest Month In Seattle's History

The brief recap: Record floods on Nov. 6 sent 12 rivers to all-time record high crests.  Windstorm on the 13th knocked out power to thousands. Big snow just after Thanksgiving that brought 2 feet of snow to some spots (about 5-10 inches around the Puget Sound area) and made another spectacle of the city on Monday Night Football.  Then of course, the whole area froze solid as 65,000+ people tried to drive home from the game -- some telling tales of spending 4-10 hours stuck in traffic. To this day, some people might still be trying to commute home.

And oh yes, Seattle sets all-time record for wettest month ever at 15.63"


The month began fairly calm, to the point that maybe, just maybe, we could let our guard down a bit.  It was quite a change to not be the first story in the newscast.  That lasted, oh, about a week and a half, then weather very much became the top story once again.

The first of three very powerful windstorms blew through the region. For this storm, the coast took the brunt, with gusts as high as 91 mph at Tatoosh Island, 83 mph at Westport and 75 mph in Sekiu. In the Puget Sound area, gusts were as high as 40-60 mph -- Alki Beach hit 62 mph.

Dec. 11: Break's over: Stormy weather returns to the Northwest

That was just the appetizer.  A second storm with similarly strong winds hit the Puget Sound area, knocking out power to 100,000.

Dec. 13: 100,000 lose power in Wednesday windstorm

Power crews just about got them all back online just in time for...arguably the biggest windstorm to strike the Northwest -- or at least the Puget Sound region -- since the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. Although debate continues in the weather community as to whether this most recent storm was stronger than the Inauguration Day storm, but you might as well call it a draw.

Dec. 14/15 Windstorm articles:

Dec. 16: Just how windy did it get?

Then, the cherry on top of the entire weather smorgasbord, a decent snow hit the Kitsap Peninsula on Christmas Eve, and then another 3-5" fell in the foothills on the 27th. Overnight temperatures then dropped into the 20s, making for yet another icy morning commute.

Dec. 27: For some, it's better late than never for a White Christmas

We thankfully dried out for the rest of the year, and New Year's Eve ended with mostly clear skies for the revelers.

Other miscellaneous weather tidbits:

* We went all of November and December without an official sunny day in Seattle, defined as 30% or less cloud cover. Although Dec. 28th was close and was sunny for parts of Seattle, at the airport, it was foggy long enough to slide the day into the "partly cloudy" category.  The last official sunny day was October 31. I believe this is the first time we've gone back-to-back months with 0 sunny days, but that has not yet been officially researched.

* For the year, temperatures in Western Washington averaged less than one degree above average.  Precipitation-wise, we'll finish about 5-10 inches above average, primarily due to January and November.

* Seattle ended the year with 48.42" of rain, making it the fifth-wettest year at Sea-Tac.