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4th of July weather getting a bum rap in Seattle?

Every year tens of thousands come to Lake Union for Seattle's only fireworks show. July 4th 2012. (Joshua Lewis / KOMO News)

Ask any longtime Seattleite about their memories of the 4th of July and I'm sure you'll get tales of driving rain storms, kids shivering in heavy coats, and maybe a story about how it snowed 3 inches one year.

I certainly have photos of me as a kid with my family bundled in our winter coats holding a sparkler (then again, that was on the immediate coast) and most of us consider a chilly evening on the Fourth a bit of a Northwest tradition.

But ask anyone who has moved here in the last five or so years and they'll wonder what in the world you are talking about.

Seattle has been on quite a nice run of rather pleasant July 4ths of late, with this year's version playing right along. Under plenty of sunshine, highs will be in the low-mid 70s with clear skies for the fireworks in the evening.

It follows up last year's 69 degree Fourth, which followed a 78 degree holiday in 2011. In fact, going back the past 10 years, you'll only find one Fourth that was a bit of a downer -- 2010 had 0.11" of rain; much of it in the late evening and early fireworks time. (2006 had a few light showers that registered all of 0.02" but had cleared by fireworks time.)

The other 8 years? Six of them had highs in the 70s with 2007 coming in at 84 and 2009 coming in at 87. Despite only an average high of 74, it hasn't been colder than 68 since 2002.

That might make it hard to believe July 4th is statistically the wettest day in July when you combine Seattle's data back to 1893 -- showing it has rained on 28% of July 4ths since records have been kept. That number has dropped slightly if you only consider Sea-Tac Airport, raining on 17 of 67 years since 1945 for a rate of 25.3%.

But when you go back farther in time, maybe you see why the Fourth has its reputation...

  • 1992 through 1996 had four of the five 4th of Julys with at least some rain (two with significant rain) with highs only in the 60s, save for 75 in 1995.
  • 1986 through 1988 had three chilly 4ths in the mid 60s, with rain on two of them
  • 1973 through 1978 was another cool, rainy stretch with rain on four of the six dates and although a couple of them managed to at least warm into the mid 70s, and 1975 was an exception, reaching 89.
  • 1959 through 1969 saw rain or a trace on 8 of the years. The other two years (1957 and 1965) had highs of 79 and 80, respectively to give a brief pause.

Here is the the breakdown (since 1945):

  • Worst Fourth: 1992, when 0.57" of rain fell amid a high of just 61 degrees -- both records for daily rainfall and lowest high temperature.
  • Hottest Fourth: 1972 when it hit 91 degrees. We came close to topping that just four years ago when it hit 87.
  • Hot Fourths: Overall, just 5 years have had highs warmer than 85, and 11 that were warmer than 80.
  • Cold Fourths: There have been 13 Fourths when the temperature was 65 or colder.

Have a happy and safe Fourth, and at least you won't get wet this year either!

Full statistics from the National Weather Service:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
420 PM PDT MON JUL 1 2013

...INDEPENDENCE DAY WEATHER STATISTICS...

.SEA-TAC AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...91 DEGREES IN 1972
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...43 DEGREES IN 1949

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 2007

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.57 INCHES IN 1992

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...74 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...54 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 69 49 0.00
2011 78 51 0.00
2010 65 52 0.11
2009 87 57 0.00
2008 71 59 0.00
2007 84 61 0.00
2006 75 54 0.02
2005 79 53 0.00
2004 71 57 0.00
2003 75 54 0.00

.OLYMPIA AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...93 DEGREES IN 1972
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...41 DEGREES IN 1949

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 2008

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.38 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...75 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...50 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 71 44 0.00
2011 79 43 0.00
2010 66 45 0.00
2009 88 49 0.00
2008 71 58 0.11
2007 87 53 0.00
2006 73 52 T
2005 81 46 0.00
2004 73 44 0.00
2003 77 46 0.00

.QUILLAYUTE AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...92 DEGREES IN 1975
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...40 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1998
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1990

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.50 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...66 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...50 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.08 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 65 46 0.00
2011 65 40 0.00
2010 59 53 0.07
2009 66 49 0.00
2008 64 56 0.07
2007 72 49 0.00
2006 60 52 0.00
2005 66 53 T
2004 65 52 T
2003 65 48 T

.HOQUIAM AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...82 DEGREES IN 1997*
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...46 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...57 DEGREES IN 1955
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 1990*

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.50 INCHES IN 1989

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...66 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...52 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.05 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 64 48 0.00
2011 67 46 0.00
2010 60 53 T
2009 62 52 0.00
2008 65 57 0.01
2007 76 55 0.00
2006 64 53 0.00
2005 MISSING
2004 67 54 0.00
2003 66 50 0.00

.BELLINGHAM AIRPORT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...85 DEGREES IN 1958
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...44 DEGREES IN 2011*

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1988*
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...58 DEGREES IN 1995*

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.99 INCHES IN 1987

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...70 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...52 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.05 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 67 47 0.00
2011 75 44 0.00
2010 62 54 T
2009 77 53 0.00
2008 59 56 0.00
2007 78 52 0.00
2006 68 54 T
2005 71 54 T
2004 69 53 0.00
2003 68 52 0.00

.WFO SEATTLE AT SANDPOINT...

HIGHEST TEMPERATURE...88 DEGREES IN 1997
LOWEST TEMPERATURE...48 DEGREES IN 2011

LOWEST MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE...61 DEGREES IN 1992
HIGHEST MINIMUM TEMPERATURE...59 DEGREES IN 2008

MOST PRECIPITATION...0.78 INCHES IN 1994

NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE...74 DEGREES
NORMAL LOW TEMPERATURE...55 DEGREES
NORMAL PRECIPITATION...0.03 INCHES

CLIMATIC DATA FOR THE PAST 10 INDEPENDENCE DAYS

YEAR HIGH LOW PRECIP

2012 69 51 0.00
2011 75 48 0.00
2010 66 53 T
2009 83 56 0.00
2008 74 59 0.00
2007 80 56 0.00
2006 76 56 0.02
2005 78 52 0.00
2004 73 56 0.00
2003 77 53 0.00

NORMAL TEMPS AND PRECIPITATION ARE THE 1981 TO 2010 CLIMATE NORMALS.
*RECORDS WERE TIED IN MULTIPLE YEARS WITH THE LATEST YEAR SHOWN.

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