Please tell me about the climate of the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade mountains. The low temperature and low humidity this time of the year sounds very interesting. What about winter? Does the length of daylight have an effect of people? How about the frequency of rain?
Believe it or not, the climate west of the Cascades isn’t all the same. It really depends where you live; further north, central puget sound region, south sound region, the foothills, the Olympic penninsula.
Generally speaking, our climate is pretty mild. The summers are pleasant, although this summer has been the wettest one we’ve had in a while. Temps during the summer average in the low to mid 70s, but there are periods of time that temps will climb into the 80s or even 90s. Temps at 90 and above aren’t sustained for long though.
Winters are generally mild, although we see a lot more rain. We infrequently receive snow in the lowlands, and enough snow to clog things up is a rarity.
As I’ve lived here most of my life, I can’t say the length of daylight has any effect on me. Some transplants find the winters a little depressing.
The non-stop rain thing is a myth. Yes, our winters are wet (most of the time; this year our winter was pretty dry), but I’d rather have rain than snow. Rain down here generally translates to snow in the mountains.
The scenery here is incredible. The coast isn’t far away, and neither are the mountains. We have tons of lakes and rivers, and Puget Sound and the Hood Canal.
Frankly, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but I’m slightly biased.
What? What are you saying? It’s always cold, rainy, and cloudy here. Humid, dark, depressing. Haven’t you seen our real estate prices? The traffic jams? The um, um, um, Seahawks’ record? No, no, wait- the gas tax; yeah, that’s the ticket!
No one should ever consider moving here.
Damn Californians. Showing up and ruining everything.
How can you tell it’s summer in the Pacific Northwest?
The rain is warmer…
And the Mariners’ record. How can anyone stand to live with a last place baseball team?
I live in Portland.
I swear, no two years are the same. We had the warmest (hell, the only warm) winter I’ve ever seen. And then all hell broke loose in the spring…cold and wet until June.
Usually the winters are very mild, especially compared to the midwest or northeast. A low of 38; a high of 45. This is pretty consistent November through February. Snow storms are rare, and rarely more than three to four inches. Ice storms seem really rare, too. Things seem to cycle…a few years of really cold, snowy/icy weather, followed by a few years of none.
March, April, and May are usually pretty wet and relatively cold. June is nice because, while it’s still cloudy, it doesn’t rain too much. July and August can be brutal…a lot of 90 degree days, and most people don’t have A/C in their homes.
September and October, if the rain holds off, can be absolutely spectacular.
The rain is an odd thing here. We get less rain than anywhere east of the Mississippi–ours is just spread out over 300 days. It doesn’t rain heavily…mostly a light rain or drizzle. Rarely do we get totally clear days. If they happen in the winter, it’s because of high pressure over the midwest…then it’s VERY cold and VERY windy here. If the temps are below freezing, and the rain front comes in slowly…big ice storm.
One thing we rarely get are thunderstorms. I love those, but they just hardly ever happen.
So, to recap: mild, wet winters; cold, wet springs; hot summers with little rain; fall is a mixed bag. By Halloween warm weather is over.
Many areas of the Northwest, particularly the coastal areas such as the Olympic Penninsula are classified as a temperate rainforest.
I’m a couple of hours north of you. In the two winters I’ve lived here, it’s snowed both times. It was so cold, I saw a little ice in the bay. Not enough traffic up here for the snow to clog things up, but lots of cars off the road. As for the length of the day, I used to think it was weird when I was in L.A. that I’d leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark. Here, it gets darker much earlier. On the other hand, the sun didn’t set last night until 2100 or 2130; so it evens out.
Not much in the way of T-storms. I get the impression that the rain tapers off a bit at the Whatcom County line.
Okay, okay, so I left the politics and our sports teams out of it. Yeah, taxes, well…um, some of them suck. But…we don’t have a state income tax.
Housing prices…yes, they are ridiculous, especially in King County. Damn Seattleites are now driving the price of housing up here in Pierce County because they’re moving down here looking for less expensive housing.
As you can see by the other posters here, it really depends where you live on the West Side of the Cascades to determine the weather. There are “rain shadow” areas, some areas are warmer, some are colder. On the other hand, it can be pouring down rain at my house, I’ll drive 7/10s of a mile and the sun is out. An old joke here in the PNW is to ask what the weather is going to do and the standard response will be “Give it a minute, it’ll change it’s mind”.
I’ve heard that Sequim is noted for it’s ‘rain shadow’. Sounds like lots of people like the sun there. (But it sounds like there are a lot of oldsters there, and not much for younger people to do.)
I remember that from the one year when I lived in Eugene, Oregon.
Before that, I’d been living in the Los Angeles area, where it’s dry 364 days of the year and then rains 180,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 inches all at once.
You should pose this question in December, you’d get a better description of the worst part of the weather. From November through March the weather consists of a sucession of storm fronts coming in from the Pacific. This creates a succession of rain followed by breaks in the overcast. Abut 30 years ago there was a concern about the high suicide rate but global warming and the implementation of crisis lines seems to have lowered the concern. Still, the long dreary winters are something to consider.
The prevailing wind is SE but only about 8-15 MPH in Seattle.
(Although there are some places in the foothills of the Cascades which can have severe winds of 50 MPH or more.)
Seattle is somewhat protected by the Olympic Mountains which wring out some of the rain. There are convergence zones at Lynwood just to the north and Federal Way to the south. If it is raining at all, you can be assured it will be raining in these convergence zones. Bellingham and Vancouver BC are not so protected and the winters are about 10 degrees colder than Seattle. On the other hand the sunshine coast just north of Vancouver BC is considerably drier that Vancouver.
The coldest months are January and February but the low rarely is below about 28F.
The humidity, due to the proximity to Puget Sound will force you to scrape ice off your windshield maybe 10-15 times a year. November has the strongest winds and March can have some unpleasant wind and rain storms also.
The climate is considered three season so you end up having three sets of clothing, or to us unfashionable natives, you just layer on the sweat suits and top it off with gore-tex in the winter.
From December through January it gets dark as early as 4:30 PM and the sun doesn’t rise until as late as 8:00 AM (when you can see the sun). This means a commute in darkness.
Spring can come as early as February but usually in March. The Cherry and plum trees start blooming and the neighborhoods can be quite beautiful, if you are not allergic to the stuff.
Although the rain slacks from late May, it doesn’t really get hot until about mid July. (Us natives consider any day without rain ‘Summer’). I do not recall a really humid day, like NYC in the summer.
The cold waters of Puget Sound provide cooling breezes in the summer and if you live one ridge back, the breezes are quite gentle. Sailboats are quite popular, but there is plenty of other outdoor activity available.
If you are planning to visit bring money. If you are planning on staying bring **lots ** of money.
When you’re in elementary school here (Seattle area - mid Puget Sound region), you learn what a “rain shadow” is and all about the water cycle, because it happens to you, daily, for 9 months of the year . People who have lived here long enough know the difference between “partly cloudy,” “partly sunny,” and “mostly cloudy.”
The temperature is mild. Springs and autumns are mild and pretty. Summers are mild and non-humid. Winters are mild and not snowy (and when it does snow, it’s big, wet flakes, not that powdery stuff other parts of the country get). When it does snow, it does shut down the area because none of us know how to drive in it. We end up divided between the people who know they can’t drive in it and stay home, and the transplants who don’t know that they can’t drive in it and end up on the 6:00 news.
The length of daylight in the winter can have an effect on people (it’s worth it in the summer, and especially when you’re a kid and you can stay out “'til it gets dark” and it seems to never get dark). But it is amazingly beautiful when the sky goes to these amazing colors of gray and the water (which is everywhere) is equally deep and dark and all around you, you can just see hints of the mountains completely surrounding you and it’s like you’re being tucked in, blanketed in by nature for the winter. It’s peaceful and calming and wonderful from November to April.
Or it will drive you completely and totally insane.