To all the Seattle-area newcomers wondering where our legendary rain has been and thinking, “This isn’t so bad”: Really, this isn’t normal.
It’s been a weird weather year, according to numbers from the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Since January, 26.29 inches of rain has been recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. That’s about 12 inches less than average, and it makes this one of only six years out of the past 74 with so little rainfall.
The last time Seattle had a year with less than 30 inches of precipitation was in 2000, when we got 28.6 inches of rain, the weather service said on Twitter early Tuesday.
“It’s been a unique year with a lot of extremes, but it’s hard to pinpoint if it’s a trend or just a unique set of conditions and setups,” meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch said Tuesday morning.
January was much warmer than average, but it was followed by a freezing cold and massively snowy February, which in turn was followed by a month of unusual warmth, he said.
Those warm periods had some predicting a sweltering summer, with a high potential for wildfires and accompanying smoke, like we’d seen the past several summers in a row. But this past summer was nearly normal, save for warmer-than-usual overnight lows. It just seemed weird because the few summers preceding it had been so hot and smoky, DeFlitch said.
Fall brought some unseasonably cold days in October and early November due to cold, dry air from Canada that kept temperatures low and the rain away, but by the end of November, temperatures were above normal.
This week should start to feel more like our typical Decembers.
A small weather system brought light rain to the region Tuesday afternoon that wasn’t “much to write home about,” but Wednesday through Friday will see some of that steady rain and breezy bluster we’re used to, as well as some “decent snowstorms in the mountains,” DeFlitch said.
Temperatures in the lowlands are expected to remain in the upper 40s or lower 50s, so even with the rain, the weather will be milder than usual, DeFlitch said.
The best chance for a spell of dry weather this week will be Saturday.
There’s a chance rain will return Sunday. Whether that will truly feel like normal December weather, DeFlitch cannot yet say.
“We’ll have to see how it plays out.”