And you thought only politicians were masters at flip-flopping.
October 2012 has pulled off an impressive about-face of its own, having gone from near-record dryness in the first third of the month to a top-five finish in the ranks of Seattle’s wettest Octobers.
Although it seems like eons ago, what with our constantly drippy skies, last month began as Seattle’s driest in 21 years, with no rainfall recorded through Oct. 11. Those first 11 days, when tacked on to the extreme dryness the region experienced in August and September, gave us our driest roughly two-and-half month period (81 days to be exact, fact-checkers) in Seattle history.
We could get over two inches of rain by the end of Halloween.
In other words, one-fourth of what will inundate Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in the same time span.
While damp even by Seattle standards, our upcoming soggy stretch—heavy rain tonight into Monday, and another inch of rain on Tuesday—is small potatoes compared to the devastating storm set to cripple the Eastern Seaboard tomorrow through Wednesday.
With an astonishingly deep low pressure for an East Coast hurricane—which translates to an incredibly wide area of strong winds extending out from the storm’s center—and copious bands of heavy rain, Hurricane Sandy truly is an unprecedented storm for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Forecast to roar ashore in southern New Jersey as a hurricane Monday night, Sandy is expected to unleash nearly ten inches of rain in places like Atlantic City, N.J., Dover, Del., and Maryland’s Eastern Shore as it slowly moves inland. Hurricane-force wind gusts, reaching over 80 mph, are also likely.
Imagine going from sunny and 70-something one day to snow and 30 degrees the next. Or vice versa.
In Seattle, either is impossible. In Denver, both happen several times a year.
Thanks to its mile-high elevation and considerable distance from large bodies of water—the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are each over 1,000 miles away—Denver is often subject to dramatic temperature swings, especially in the fall and spring. These wild fluctuations in the mercury can either raise or lower the Mile High City’s temperature by 50 degrees in just 24 hours’ time.
Sure, it rained yesterday, and sure, it rained pretty hard in some spots. Boeing Field, after all, saw .18 inches from a midday thunderstorm, and heavy showers pounded areas north of Everett as a strong line of storms—including a waterspout by Whidbey Island—moved through.
Compared to what fell from the sky nine years earlier, however, yesterday’s downpours were mere sprinkles.
Torrential rains swept through Seattle on Oct. 20, 2003, making for the wettest day in the city’s history. 5.02 inches of rain was measured in the gauge at Sea-Tac Airport, shattering the previous daily rainfall record of 3.41 inches from Nov. 20, 1959. The mark for the most rainfall in a 24-hour period was also easily broken, with the 3.74 inches that fell from Oct. 5-6, 1981 well over an inch shy of the October ‘03 deluge.
It’s only mid-October, but by this weekend, it’ll feel like mid-November.
Much colder air will invade Western Washington beginning Saturday, dropping our high temperatures to around 50 degrees—a mark not usually reached in Seattle until just before Thanksgiving.
The air will feel especially brisk when contrasted with today’s highs, which hit the mid 60s as warm air ahead of the rain boosted temperatures to above normal. Now, with precipitation falling throughout the metro area, we’ve cooled into the upper 50s—just the beginning of our downward trend in temperature.
At least it won’t rain all day.
Another slug of moisture is set to drench Seattle tomorrow, but not before 12 hours of dryness ensues.
Cloudy but rain-free skies are in store for the first half of Monday, with the steady precipitation we’ve seen most of today tapering off by midnight. The Monday morning commute should be solidly dry across all of Western Washington, with even the beleaguered coast (Quillayute Airport near Forks has seen over five inches of rain since Friday) catching a break.
Last year, we kicked off October with 11 straight days of rain.
This year, things couldn’t have begun on a more different note.
With no rain expected until Friday, the first 11 days of the month will go down as completely dry—Seattle’s driest start to October since 1991, when rain held off until the 16th of the month. In addition, the lack of any moisture today means that at day’s end, we’ll have only seen .03 inches of precipitation since July 23—making for the driest 80 days on record.
Soak it up now, because by this weekend, we’ll be drenched.
What month is it again?
The high temperature at Sea-Tac Airport climbed to 75 degrees today—a reading typical for late August, not early October. In fact, today’s high—12 degrees above the average of 63—was so unusually balmy that it matched the all-time record high for the day (Seattle also hit 75 on Oct. 7 in 2000 and 1951).
The record-tying mark comes in the midst of what’s been a rather warm beginning to October—the high temperature in the first week of the month has been above 70 four out of seven times, with all but one day topping out above average. The trend will continue on Monday, with 70-degree readings expected for a fourth consecutive day.
Rain is at least a week away.
With a massive ridge of high pressure over the Eastern Pacific shunting all moisture well to our north and south, the extensive dry spell that’s gripped Seattle since mid-summer will continue unabated for the next seven days.
And what a spell it’s been. The meager .03 inches that’s fallen at Sea-Tac since July 23 has made for the driest two-and-a-half-month period in Seattle in 90 years. By Saturday—day 76 of the dry stretch—it’ll be the driest such time in Seattle history, eclipsing the current record set over 75 days, back in 1922.