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Stop the presses: It didn't rain that much during Seattle's winter

Here is a fun fact: The actual winter of 2012-13 will go down as among the driest on record.

Don't believe me? I don't blame you. It certainly didn't set any records for lack of frequency of rain. From Jan. 1 to March 31, Seattle managed to get measurable rain on 50 of the 90 days -- good for 56%. But it just didn't amount to anything much in the rain gauges.

How little? Seattle (Sea-Tac) had 8.48 inches of rain over that Jan. 1-March 31 time frame. That's a whopping 4.24 inches below normal. In fact, it was the sixth driest "winter" at Sea-Tac Airport:

Driest Jan. 1 through March 31 at Sea-Tac Airport:

  1. 1985: 5.77"
  2. 1977: 7.15"
  3. 2001: 7.50"
  4. 1962: 7.58"
  5. 1973: 7.80"
  6. 2013: 8.48"

But you know what? Maybe we were due. Because ironically, Seattle's dry stretch began abruptly at the conclusion of a very wet stretch that ended in December -- that would be the sixth wettest autumn at Sea-Tac Airport:

Wettest Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 at Sea-Tac Airport:

  1. 1955: 25.06"
  2. 2006: 24.48"
  3. 1998: 24.08"
  4. 1950: 22.33"
  5. 1996: 21.97"
  6. 2012: 21.84"

Combine the two and you find that Seattle is pretty close to normal from October 1 - March 31 -- we have 30.32" in the gauge versus 28.12" as normal.

This relative normalcy can be found in the mountain snowpack, which is running just a little below average, but not terribly so, averaging about 85-99 percent of normal.

CLIMATOLOGICAL SNOWDEPTH INFORMATIONNORTHWEST WEATHER AND AVALANCHE CENTER SEATTLE WASHINGTONDAY 1 MONTH 4 YEAR 2013 DATA IN INCHES, -99 DENOTES MISSING DATA CURRENT CLIMATE PER CENT LAST THRU 2012 THRU 2012 DEPTH AVERAGE OF NORMAL YEAR MAX/YEAR MIN/YEARHURRICANE 106 110 96 167 252/1999 42/2005MT BAKER 174 175 99 267 311/1999 72/1934STEVENS 96 102 94 147 192/1956 24/1941SNOQUALMIE 74 86 86 134 170/1956 2/1992STAMPEDE 78 100 78 122 183/1956 17/1992MISSION 37 48 77 74 86/1983 20/1973CRYSTAL 69 73 95 117 144/1999 16/1981PARADISE 167 176 95 228 327/1956 66/1941WHITE PASS 46 57 81 106 110/1997 0/1992TIMBERLINE 146 165 88 206 300/1999 57/1981MEADOWS 105 130 81 173 199/2008 49/2005

One place where we failed miserably to get anywhere close to normal was in the lowland snow department. Seattle finished up with a very paltry 0.6" of measurable snow, that fell on one December day for a few hours in the dead of night. (But at least we did get video proof that it happened!)

However, that brief dusting was enough to keep the autumn/winter of 2012-13 from going down in the record books. Technically, it was only the 9th least-snowiest winter at Sea-Tac Airport, coming in behind the only completely snowless winter on record of 1991-92, seven years that had just a Trace of snow, and the winter of 1983-84 where they got 0.3". (I'll at least bet that might have fallen during the daylight hours.)

(Note that the snows of March 21-22 on the edges of the Puget Sound region never hit the airport. In fact, good luck deducing it even snowed in the region as the climate page shows the high was 49 with no rainfall reported.)

Normally in a non El Nino/La Nina winter as this ended up, we would have expected something better in the snow department but perhaps with this equal balance sort of kick Mother Nature is on, this sets us up for the 9th snowiest winter next year :)

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