The sun has broken through the never-ending cloud cover here in Seattle, and it’s about time. We’ve been without a spring this year — I can count between two and four days of sunshine since February. Fortunately for me I’ve been attending class and coding Ruby most of the day, only spending time outside on my cycle commute. Foreigners think of Seattle as some strange rain ecosystem, where no one goes outside September through June. At least this is what my family and I thought when I was deciding where to go to school. When I travel to other parts of the world and mention that I go to school in Seattle, the typical response is, “Oh yeah, it rains up there a lot, huh?” From foreigner to foreigner, I thought I would describe Seattle’s weather for the four years I’ve been here.
Freshman Year: 2004-2005
This was a super mild winter. There was a huge drought in the northwest, making for dry, clear, insanely cold days. I would say that we got only a handful of rain days that year, with an average temperature in the low 40s. It wasn’t so bad; I skateboarded a lot. However, the snowboarding was awful. I recall that fall and spring were both pretty typical. Typical meaning mostly overcast and misty with spots of sun and warmth.
Sophomore Year: 2005-2006
This one was a doozy. We had a record-tying 33 days of rain in a row, and most of those days were filled with moderate to heavy rainfall. It was miserable, but awesome at the same time. I had the best snowboarding winter of my life this year. Again, I don’t really recall that fall and spring, but I think they were both typical.
Shi Shi Beach backpack trip.
Another Shi Shi shot.
Junior Year: 2006-2007
This one was a doozy as well. We had a record-breaking seven (I think?) inches of rain in a single day, and it almost happened twice. We also had a ridiculous fall, which consisted of rain, cold, and early snowfall. I think we had a total of six or seven snow days this year. Spring, however, was really nice. The sunshine came early and stayed for a while. I remember having two full weeks of warm sun. Insane!
Three Fingers hike.
Snow in Seattle.
Hike up Rainer, snowboard down.
Senior Year: 2007-2008
First let me talk about the summer of 2008. I spent this summer in Seattle working at Redfin, and I’ve never been more disappointed with the weather. Everyone agrees that the weather sucks in Seattle during the winter, but summers are apparently beautiful, warm, and clear. Let me just tell you that the summer of 2008 was a complete let down. I think there was a total of 2 weeks of sun and warmth, and the rest was filled with drizzles, clouds, mist, fog, and general misery.
The bad summer blended right in to a bad fall and an even worse winter. We had probably around seven or eight snow days and plenty of freezing weather and precipitation. I remember getting on my cycle at 8:00am en route for work and thinking I was going to freeze to death. The snow-covered mountains were insane, and I got a ton of awesome snowboard days in. So what about the spring? We didn’t have a spring. With snow in late April, sub 50 degree temperatures, and plenty of rain and wind, winter spilled right over all of spring. I’m hoping that today’s patch of sun will be the start of a trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t
Alpaca farm on San Juan Island.
Is the weather in Seattle bad? Absolutely. Is the weather in Seattle bad even during the summer? In my experience, yes, but everyone says summer is great. I generally don’t mind bad weather, because it means better snowboarding. However, commuting to work and school either by foot or cycle sucks in the rain, and each consecutive day of miserable commutes adds to more and more frustration. The bad weather has definitely limited me by keeping me inside more often than I’d like to be. I wasn’t able to surf or skateboard that much this summer, and my winter commutes were sometimes canceled because of snow and ice. However, being inside more often has its perks. I’ve cranked out a ton of personal projects, and I’ve achieved a good academic status. The weather is not one of the things I will miss about Seattle, but there is plenty else to miss.