For the first time in 82 days, Seattle received more than the bare minimum of rain to qualify as a rainy day as a cold front sweeps through the region. In fact, we've had as much rain in 5 hours (0.03") Friday than we've had combined in those several weeks of dry. And it's probably a good thing as any more dry days and drivers would have had to start dodging tumbleweed on I-5.
The rain will prevent any more dry-stretch records from being broken -- the latest set Wednesday for the driest 80-day stretch in Seattle history at 0.03". (Old record was 0.07" set... Monday. But before that it was 0.08" stretching from June to early September in 2006.) The paltry three days of measurable rain since Aug. 1 (each the minimum 0.01" to count) also set a record for fewest observed in this time frame.
But there is a reason the rainy season is deemed to begin on Oct. 1, and now that the rain is back, it plans to stick around for a while.
Steady light rains on Friday will give way to scattered showers late Friday into Saturday.
A stronger, one-two punch of storms will push through on Sunday and Monday, easily dousing everyone whose zip code begins with "98---" but especially drenching to the mountains. Forecast models indicate the Cascades could see 4-6 inches of rain from both storms while the Olympics could see even more. In the lowlands, accumulated two day rain totals will be well over an inch in most spots including Seattle -- and perhaps 2"+ in southwestern Washington and in the foothills.
The exception will be in the favored rain shadow areas of the northeastern Olympic Peninsula and northern Kitsap County and parts of southern Island and western Snohomish County where rainfall amounts will be considerably less. If you really want to cling to the Northwest's dry weather, a weekend trip to Sequim might not be a bad idea.
In addition to the heavy rains, gusty winds will likely be a factor, especially with Monday's storm. Wind speeds are not expected to be too strong -- probably 30-45 mph in gusts -- but that's enough that with fully-leaved trees and being the first wind event of the season, even a relatively weak to moderate storm can do more damage than it'd normally do in the heart of the fall and winter. So while blowing tumbleweed is no longer a concern, dodging a blizzard of leaves is not out of the question.
The weather is set to calm down again in the middle of next week.
But in the meantime, with the return of the rains, the Washington State Patrol is warning all drivers to take extra care on the roads when the rains first begin. Long periods of dry weather lead to accumulations of oils on the roadways and they tend to be very slick in the initial hours of an inaugural rainfall.
List of records broken or nearly broken
Just to put a cherry on top of the dry streak, here is a list of records Seattle broke or nearly broke during the historic dry stretch:
- Second place: Number of consecutive days without measurable rain: 48 (July 23-Sept. 8). (Record: 51 set in 1951)
- Driest August on record (Trace). Old record: 0.01" (1974)
- Driest August-September on record (0.03"). Old record: 0.19" (1993)
- (Tie) Driest any two-month stretch on record at Sea-Tac Airport (0.03"). Tied with Jul-Aug 1967. (Federal Building: 0.02" Jul-Aug 1914)
- Driest 80 day stretch on record (0.03"). Old record: 0.07" set two days earlier in current dry streak; 0.08" in 2006.
- Fewest days of measurable rain from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 (3). Old record: 4 (1974)
- First day over 75 degrees in October since 2000