Weather Blog

14 minutes of rain ends Seattle's near-record dry streak

14 minutes of rain ends Seattle's near-record dry streak
Rain that fell across Lake City neighborhood of Seattle on Sept. 10, 2012. (Courtesy: Michael Mclaughlin)

SEATTLE -- Stop the presses! It rained in Seattle.

Normally that's about as newsworthy as a flying fish spotted at the Pike Place Market, but as the rain first began falling Sunday night, it was the first time Seattle had seen measurable rain since 0.04" fell on July 22 -- a span of 48 days.

That's before Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees. It was before Paul Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney's vice president candidate. It was before SeaFair's Torchlight Parade.

For those who love rain, it probably feels as if it's been since the Dennys landed at Alki. It's even rained nine times in Phoenix (nine!) since Seattle's last rain.

The rain shower that ended the streak wasn't very long, and it wasn't a whole lot.  In fact, it was the bare minimum 0.01" needed to qualify as measurable rain. A 14-minute shower moved over Sea-Tac Airport at 11:35 p.m. Sunday and was enough to coax the rain gauge into saying it was more than a trace.

Other areas around the Seattle and Puget Sound area got quite a bit more rain, especially the North Sound. Everett's Paine Field had nearly a quarter inch of rain (0.23") as of Monday morning. Rain totals in North Seattle and northern King County also ranged from about 0.20-0.25" while locations on the Eastside were around a tenth of an inch, according to the CoCoRahs community weather observer network.


Video of a drenching rain in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood early Monday morning.

But there were several other places that skated through dry, just Sea-Tac was not one of them.

The 48-day streak was the second-longest since records have been kept at Sea-Tac Airport in 1945, coming up just shy of the record of 51 days set in 1951.

While going over a month with no rain might seem like a problem, luckily this streak was perfectly framed through the heart of Seattle's dry season. August only averages 0.88" of rain a month, so while a dry late summer makes for brown lawns and an increased risk of fire danger, climatologically speaking, it's not something that would have a long-lasting damaging effect on the Seattle area because we really don't expect to get rain this time of year.

Our water supply comes from the fall and winter mountain snows and we just withdraw from the "bank" as the summer goes on. And this past winter in particular had plenty of snowfall so no worries of any water shortages despite the rain that's gone into hibernation. If we were going to have a big dry streak, this was the summer to do it.

But put this dry streak in the middle of November or December and now we've got problems. Go six weeks without any rain or mountain snow and that could have some lasting effects. But dry streaks in the heart of summer are essentially guilt-free provided it hasn't been a theme of the entire year.

Notable weather events inside the streak

The dry stretch made more headlines than just the record for consecutive days without rain:

New dry streak set to begin...Tuesday

If you're sad the dry streak ended, no worries, Seattle is set to begin another long dry streak on Tuesday, with no more rain foreseen for another 10-12 days (in fact, it's expected to get quite warm again toward the end of the week.)

So we were one storm away from a dry streak of historical proportions.  It's almost like Joe Dimaggio's hitting streak which ended at 56 games, courtesy of a few good defensive plays. But Joltin' Joe started what would be a new 16 game hitting streak the next day.

Had this current rain missed Seattle, our dry streak would have likely stretched well into the 60s. As it stands it'll just have to be a footnote to the current streak.