Name the one thing that makes Seattle, Seattle. If you’re conjuring the Space Needle or mermaids printed on coffee cups or fishmongers throwing salmon, perhaps conceive of something more elemental.

Think rain.

Here on the top left corner of the nation, precipitation is part of the culture, and has been since villages lined the Duwamish, Black and Cedar rivers. When it doesn’t rain, Seattle doesn’t seem quite itself.

Last Saturday, Nov. 19, marked the region’s 12th straight dry day, a run that included what is typically the wettest day of the year.

According to the National Weather Service in Seattle, Nov. 19 has experienced rain 95 out of the last 128 years, making it the “wettest day in Seattle weather records.” This year, it seemed like a good time to get into shorts and a T-shirt and wash the car. What are we, Miami?

On average, 4.4 inches of rainfall in the first 20 days of November. This year, we’ve had just under 1.7 inches.

Drizzle, mist and gloom. Once upon a time, these were things to complain about. Now, Seattle’s crummy weather seems increasingly like a stereotype that doesn’t ring true. This does not bode well, least of all for our region’s rivers and trees.


Stressed by drought, big leaf maples and hemlocks are loaded with cones or seeds. “It’s kind of their last-ditch effort to reproduce,” said Shea Cope, an arborist at Washington Park Arboretum, according to the AP.

“If trends hold, we are going to have a lot of trees die,” said Nicholas Johnson, an arborist for Seattle Parks and Recreation.

There is still hope for a wonderfully horrible winter.

Tuesday, the rains came, cozy, familiar, putting things back in order.

It’s too early in the season for the dry spell to cause serious concern for snowpack, Jacob DeFlitch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, told the Times. Mountain snow delights skiers and snowboarders and acts as a battery as it melts and feeds mighty rivers that power the state’s dominant hydropower system.

Cold temperatures have kept the snow that fell early in the month in place, he said.

“The rain is going to be coming,” DeFlitch said.

In this season of giving thanks, just putting on a slicker to go outside or turning on the windshield wipers or listening to rain hitting the roof is reason enough to be grateful: we’re still us.