You have probably had this experience: Go just about anywhere in the country and mention you are from Seattle, and someone will immediately ask you about rain.
This part of the country has an arguably inaccurate reputation for excessive sogginess. Yes, it is a misty place; yes, it can be cloudy for weeks at a time; yes, locals tend to dress like mountain climbers nine months of the year because drizzle is always a possibility. But our weather is not that much different from the weather in Paris or London, and no one thinks “rain” at the mention of those fabled cities.
However, with the advent of atmospheric rivers (those massive plumes of moisture that more and more frequently crash in from the Pacific to dump record amounts of rain), Seattle and the wider region may begin to deserve the reputation for unusual amounts of precipitation. This week, one such atmospheric river, accompanied by powerful winds, raised so much havoc – floods, blocked highways, closed schools, power outages, stranded people needing rescue – that we actually drew the attention of national news outlets, something that seldom happens, given that the New York-based media seem to regard the Northwest as little more than a far, uncharted corner of California.
Correlation cannot be certain, but the atmospheric river phenomenon looks a lot like what climate scientists have predicted to be the future of this part of the world; more rain falling in torrents, not scattered showers. So, while much of the planet dries up, we should prepare to get wet. And we should not whine about it. There are worse things than living in the one place that will still be green in 100 years.
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