As a native of Port Angeles, our family has driven the road between there and Seattle so many times we could probably do it blindfolded.
The drive is always beautiful with the contrast between the Strait and Olympics peeking out through the tall trees that adorn Highway 101 and 104. But as a meteorologist, that drive can be doubly interesting on days when the Olympic Rain Shadow is in full effect.
It's a common sight then to be driving in the pouring rain out of Seattle, only to have the rain suddenly stop and the skies clear as you approach Sequim -- even the road will be bone dry. And sure enough, once you approach Port Angeles, the sun fades, and the windshield wipers need to be activated once again.
On Wednesday, my parents were coming to Seattle to be grandparents to my and my sister's kids, and I figured with our big rain storm coming in from the southwest - perfect conditions for the rain shadow to set up -- I'd ask them to do a little videography of the drive in from Port Angeles to document just how stark the changes can be over a short period of time.
Watch as they drive through blazing sunshine in Sequim and eastern Clallam County, only to have the skies darken and then open up as merge onto SR-104 just past Discovery Bay -- a distance of only about 25 miles.
This was taken roughly around 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning (June 2, 2010.) Those of you in Seattle, remember how wet it was at that time?
Here is a refresher -- the radar image from 8:12 am.:
The folks in Sequim are well-aware of their unique meteorological advantage and use it to boast they are the driest, sunniest spot in Western Washington. Sequim averages just 15-18" of rain per year -- about on par with Flagstaff, Arizona.
Learn more about the Olympic Rain Shadow in our Weather FAQ
The rain shadow looks like it'll be in effect again on Friday. So if you really need some sun in a hurry, head up to Sequim!
(Here is a Google map that shows the route they took with markers approximating where they were at each video shown. NOTE! After I edited the video last night, I found out that the first video was actaully taken just east of Sequim, not just west of it as I subtitled on the video. My Mom said she forgot to take the video until they were passing through Sequim. They noted that it was drizzling in Port Angeles when they left and stopped just as they reached the western Sequim boundary, with the sun breaking out as they were leaving Sequim.)
(Thanks Mom & Dad for taking the videos!)