Weather Blog

What happened in the other years of extended dry streaks?

What happened in the other years of extended dry streaks?

As usual when we get an extended period of unusual weather, I get asked what the following winter or summer was like in previous years that had similar anomalous conditions.

The long summer dry streak was no exception. I've fielded quite a few emails asking what the winter was following the streaks.

Now before I start, this blog is intended solely to answer the question, not present this data as an actual forecast. You really can't say one similar summer will follow the same winter script as another because there are zillions of factors in play and if it did, well, long range forecasting would be a piece of cake :)

But to fulfill your curiosity...

The three years getting the most attention in the records we're breaking are 1951 (the 51 day dry streak we narrowly missed), 2006 (which is home to most of the 75-100 day dry stretch records) and 1922.

The winter of 1951-52 had a modest amount of snow -- about 10 inches total. But that year's dry streak might have been payback for the epic winter that had come 18 months earlier in January and February of 1950 that still has an iron-clad grip on much of Seattle's winter weather records.

But the winter of 1922 was pretty cold and snowy. In fact, records from the Downtown Seattle Federal Building show the city had 30 inches of snow that winter -- among the top 10.

What about 2006? That summer was just as dry as the current one -- even drier, actually. The only reason it didn't get as much fanfare was that the 0.08" that fell across nearly three months came spread out in nearly even chunks to where we never really got an extended dry streak really going. So that dry summer snuck up on us a bit. It also was centered more in the heart of summer -- stretching from about June 17 to September 8-12, where our current streak was a bit later in stretching into the start of October's supposed rainy season.

Many of you still remember what happened in the fall and winter of 2006-07: It got wet. Really wet. November 2006 shattered the record for wettest month of record with nearly 16" of rain, including the flash freeze nightmare on Monday Night Football in late November. Then came December and the roaring Hanukah Eve windstorm.

Again, that's not to say this winter will go along, although I will say earlier forecasts of a winter-numbing El Nino event have been tapered back to where we might end up a neutral winter, which tend to be a bit stormier. It's actually somewhat similar to where we were in 2006.

But we'll have to see if this winter follows a similar script. But one thing is for sure, if you believe in the law of averages, we're seriously due for some wet.