During a couple of extended stints working in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., I found that the subject of rain came up whenever I mentioned Seattle was my home. “It always rains there” was the typical comment.

I always had to bite my tongue before I gave away the grand secret of the Puget Sound region: It does not always rain here. During most of July, August and September, perfect weather is the rule. Or at least it used to be.

That summer sun is still pretty dependable, but, in recent years, that bright orb in the sky has cranked up the heat. We have just lived through some record-breaking temperatures, and it is certain, thanks to climate change, that more records will topple in the future. The Northwest is getting hotter, and even our notorious rain is not enough to prevent the drying of our forests. Bigger and nastier wildfires have come with the heat, and those conflagrations have sent smoke to yellow our city air and make mere breathing a risky activity.

Last summer, we lucked out; the smoke was not so bad. But this year, and every year from now on, a question will hang in the air: Will our summer be as fabulous as we’ve grown to expect, or will the heat and smoke ruin too many of our once perfect days?

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