Seattle Travel Guide


Seattle's climate is mild, with the temperature moderated by the sea and protected from winds and storms by the mountains. The "rainy city" receives an unremarkable 35–38 inches (890–970 mm) of precipitation a year, less than most major Eastern Seaboard cities, e.g., New York City averages 47.3 inches (1200 mm), but is cloudy an average of 226 days per year vs. 132 in New York City. Most of the precipitation falls as drizzle or light rain because Seattle is in the rain shadow of the Olympic mountains. The temperature and weather are similar to that of Vancouver, BC, Seattle's major Canadian neighbor. Average temperatures range from the low 30's at night in winter to the mid 70's for summer highs.

80 miles (130 km) to the west, the Hoh Rain Forest, in the Olympic National Park, records an annual average rainfall of 142 inches (3600 mm), and the Washington state capital, Olympia, south of the rain shadow, receives 52 inches (1320 mm). Snow falls on occasion, but rarely sticks very long. Sunnier "California weather" typically dominates from mid-July through mid-September, arriving later and leaving earlier than in Portland, Oregon to the south.

Serious exceptions to Seattle's raininess can occur during El Niño years, when the marine weather systems track to the south, affecting California instead. Since the region depends on water stored in its mountain snow packs during the dryer summer months, El Niño winters are not only hard on the ski areas, but can result in water rationing in the summer and a shortage of hydro-electric generated power.

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