Weather Blog

So much for the Pacific North'Wet' - we're drier than the deserts

So much for the Pacific North'Wet' - we're drier than the deserts
Photo of sunny Seattle on July 27, 2013, courtesy of Puget Sound Clean Air Agency visibility camera.

I bet if we polled the nation to name a city in the United States has gone this entire month of July with no rain in the rain gauge, they'd likely get it wrong, and that's even spotting them 2 1/2 states.

Las Vegas? Phoenix? Los Angeles? Nope.

Seattle? Portland? Spokane? Eugene? Yes, indeed.

In fact, just about the entire states of Washington, Oregon and even the northern half of California haven't seen rain since late June, with a few cities excepted due to scattered thunderstorms that found their rain gauge.

Seattle is, as of Monday, sitting on a 32-day streak of dry weather, with Portland and Eugene at 33 days and San Francisco at 34. The longest dry streak I could find of reasonably-sized cites was San Jose, California at 35 days. (Update: Thanks to eagle eyed commenter Webby, who found Fresno, CA obliterates them all at 82 days) Meanwhile, the Desert Southwest hasn't even been a week.

City: Last date of measurable rain as of July 29:
Fresno, CA May 8
San Jose, CA June 24
San Francisco, CA June 25
Portland, OR June 26
Eugene, OR June 26
Seattle, WA June 27
Spokane, WA June 29
Las Vegas, NV July 20
Phoenix, AZ July 25
Los Angeles, CA July 26
San Diego, CA July 26
Reno, NV July 27


Now those that are familiar with the Desert Southwest climate in July would probably not find it too shocking that dry streaks there are short because it is the monsoon season. But the length of dryness up here in the "Pacific Northwet" is a bit unusual, even in our dry season. Seattle is set to go dry through July for just the fifth time since 1891 and will for the first time ever, have a totally dry month in consecutive years (remember we didn't get any rain last August as well.)

Meet Seattle's summertime polar opposite: Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

While going any full month without any rain is news, going without any rain in late July in Seattle... isn't. This is statistically the driest time of the year, with rain only falling about 10-12 times in the past 120 years this week (it's why SeaFair's main events are this week -- they've done their climate homework.) July 30 and Aug. 4 both share the title of driest day of the year, with just 9 dates of measurable rain since 1892.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where planning an outdoor event on July 29 and expecting to be dry is just plain silly -- unless rain is the invited guest. It turns out it has rained in that town on July 29th 113 times since 1874:


Photo courtesy: Scott Harbaugh, WPXI-TV Pittsburgh, PA

(To directly compare, Seattle is 11 times since 1892 on the 29th.)

And to celebrate, they hold the Rainy Day Festival. A tradition borne when years ago, a farmer told a worker in a drug store on July 28th it would rain on the 29th because "it always rained on his birthday" and he had a journal to prove it. And observations since have backed up his claim.

So while we celebrate hydros and parades that rain would put a damper on, Waynesburg celebrates the day with contests for, among other things, best decorated umbrellas.



I suspect with the brown lawns and increasing wildfire dangers that there might be a spontaneous celebration for Rain Day here the next time Seattle's claim to fame returns to town.