Weather Blog

4th of July weather getting a bum rap in Seattle?

4th of July weather getting a bum rap in Seattle?
Every year tens of thousands come to Lake Union for Seattle's only fireworks show. July 4th 2012. (Joshua Lewis / KOMO News)

Ask any longtime Seattleite about their memories of the 4th of July and I'm sure you'll get tales of driving rain storms, kids shivering in heavy coats, and maybe a story about how it snowed 3 inches one year.

I certainly have photos of me as a kid with my family bundled in our winter coats holding a sparkler (then again, that was on the immediate coast) and most of us consider a chilly evening on the Fourth a bit of a Northwest tradition.

But ask anyone who has moved here in the last five or so years and they'll wonder what in the world you are talking about.

Seattle has been on quite a nice run of rather pleasant July 4ths of late, with this year's version playing right along. Under plenty of sunshine, highs will be in the low-mid 70s with clear skies for the fireworks in the evening.

It follows up last year's 69 degree Fourth, which followed a 78 degree holiday in 2011. In fact, going back the past 10 years, you'll only find one Fourth that was a bit of a downer -- 2010 had 0.11" of rain; much of it in the late evening and early fireworks time. (2006 had a few light showers that registered all of 0.02" but had cleared by fireworks time.)

The other 8 years? Six of them had highs in the 70s with 2007 coming in at 84 and 2009 coming in at 87. Despite only an average high of 74, it hasn't been colder than 68 since 2002.

That might make it hard to believe July 4th is statistically the wettest day in July when you combine Seattle's data back to 1893 -- showing it has rained on 28% of July 4ths since records have been kept. That number has dropped slightly if you only consider Sea-Tac Airport, raining on 17 of 67 years since 1945 for a rate of 25.3%.

But when you go back farther in time, maybe you see why the Fourth has its reputation...

  • 1992 through 1996 had four of the five 4th of Julys with at least some rain (two with significant rain) with highs only in the 60s, save for 75 in 1995.
  • 1986 through 1988 had three chilly 4ths in the mid 60s, with rain on two of them
  • 1973 through 1978 was another cool, rainy stretch with rain on four of the six dates and although a couple of them managed to at least warm into the mid 70s, and 1975 was an exception, reaching 89.
  • 1959 through 1969 saw rain or a trace on 8 of the years. The other two years (1957 and 1965) had highs of 79 and 80, respectively to give a brief pause.

Here is the the breakdown (since 1945):

  • Worst Fourth: 1992, when 0.57" of rain fell amid a high of just 61 degrees -- both records for daily rainfall and lowest high temperature.
  • Hottest Fourth: 1972 when it hit 91 degrees. We came close to topping that just four years ago when it hit 87.
  • Hot Fourths: Overall, just 5 years have had highs warmer than 85, and 11 that were warmer than 80.
  • Cold Fourths: There have been 13 Fourths when the temperature was 65 or colder.

Have a happy and safe Fourth, and at least you won't get wet this year either!

Full statistics from the National Weather Service:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
420 PM PDT MON JUL 1 2013

 ...INDEPENDENCE DAY WEATHER STATISTICS...

 .SEA-TAC AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...91 DEGREES IN 1972
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...43 DEGREES IN 1949

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 2007

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.57 INCHES IN 1992

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...74 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...54 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    69      49      0.00
2011    78      51      0.00
2010    65      52      0.11
2009    87      57      0.00
2008    71      59      0.00
2007    84      61      0.00
2006    75      54      0.02
2005    79      53      0.00
2004    71      57      0.00
2003    75      54      0.00

 .OLYMPIA AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...93 DEGREES IN 1972
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...41 DEGREES IN 1949

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 2008

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.38 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...75 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...50 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    71      44      0.00
2011    79      43      0.00
2010    66      45      0.00
2009    88      49      0.00
2008    71      58      0.11
2007    87      53      0.00
2006    73      52      T
2005    81      46      0.00
2004    73      44      0.00
2003    77      46      0.00

 .QUILLAYUTE AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...92 DEGREES IN 1975
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...40 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1998
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1990

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.50 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...66 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...50 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.08 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    65      46      0.00
2011    65      40      0.00
2010    59      53      0.07
2009    66      49      0.00
2008    64      56      0.07
2007    72      49      0.00
2006    60      52      0.00
2005    66      53      T
2004    65      52      T
2003    65      48      T

 .HOQUIAM AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...82 DEGREES IN 1997*
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...46 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1955
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 1990*

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.50 INCHES IN 1989

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...66 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...52 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.05 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    64      48      0.00
2011    67      46      0.00
2010    60      53      T
2009    62      52      0.00
2008    65      57      0.01   
2007    76      55      0.00
2006    64      53      0.00
2005         MISSING
2004    67      54      0.00
2003    66      50      0.00

 .BELLINGHAM AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...85 DEGREES IN 1958
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...44 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1988*
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 1995*

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.99 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...70 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...52 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.05 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    67      47      0.00
2011    75      44      0.00
2010    62      54      T  
2009    77      53      0.00
2008    59      56      0.00
2007    78      52      0.00
2006    68      54      T
2005    71      54      T
2004    69      53      0.00
2003    68      52      0.00

 .WFO SEATTLE AT SANDPOINT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...88 DEGREES IN 1997
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...48 DEGREES IN 2011

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...59 DEGREES IN 2008

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.78 INCHES IN 1994

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...74 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...55 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR    HIGH    LOW     PRECIP

2012    69      51      0.00
2011    75      48      0.00
2010    66      53      T
2009    83      56      0.00
2008    74      59      0.00
2007    80      56      0.00
2006    76      56      0.02
2005    78      52      0.00
2004    73      56      0.00
2003    77      53      0.00

 NORMAL TEMPS AND PRECIPITATION ARE THE 1981 TO 2010 CLIMATE NORMALS.
*RECORDS WERE TIED IN MULTIPLE YEARS WITH THE LATEST YEAR SHOWN.