Soggy Seattle goes on a streak of dry weather

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SEATTLE — Not too many people are complaining in typically soggy Seattle, but the city is on a surprising run of dry weather.

The gauge at Sea-Tac Airport has gone to the end of August without a drop of rain. And the National Weather Service says if it stays that way through Friday as expected, it'll break the record of .01 inch of precipitation, which has happened just three times in the city since 1891.

Local angle

An unusually long run of dry weather gave Vancouver the entire month of August without any measurable rainfall. The city recorded only a trace of precipitation on Aug. 18, according to the National Weather Service in Portland, but not enough to register 0.01 inch in the rain gauge.

Vancouver last saw measurable rain on July 20, when 0.05 inch fell, according to the weather

service. Friday marked the 42nd consecutive day without measurable rain in Vancouver.

Long-term precipitation records aren't available for Vancouver. But if Portland International Airport is any indication, such a dry spell is rare. The last time Portland went an entire month without measurable rain was July 2003 — more than nine years ago.

This year's streak hasn't set any records yet. The longest recorded run without measurable rain is 71 days, spanning June 23 to Sept. 1 in 1967. Included in that run were 41 days without a drop — not even a trace — of precipitation, according to the weather service.

The latest streak of dry weather will continue at least for the foreseeable future. Forecasters expect mostly clear skies through the end of next week, according to the weather service.

— Eric Florip

The current dry spell could challenge the 51-day record set in 1951. The last rain at the airport was .04 inch on July 22 — marking 40 days and counting.

There's no more reason for the dry August than there was for the wet June, said weather service meteorologist Allen Kam.

It's just the way things go, he said. "Streaks happen."

The dry stretch is just fine for people heading outdoors for Labor Day weekend. The 200,000 people expected to gather by the Space Needle for the annual Bumbershoot Festival, a three-day music and arts fair named after an old-timey word for "umbrella," can expect sunny skies and highs around 70.

"You can't always count on good weather — this is Seattle," said Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust. "This weekend the weather forecast is perfect."

Gathering clouds could lower temperatures and bring a chance of showers in some other areas of the state for the last holiday of the summer, but forecasters don't see any Seattle rainstorms on the horizon.

"It has a decent chance of lasting a bunch into September," said Kam, who is based in Seattle. "We could certainly be sneaking up on the 51."

Though the summer has been dry, for the calendar year, precipitation in the city is about 5 inches above normal, Kam said. He added that rain watchers follow the "water year," which starts in October, and on that calendar, Seattle is just about 1 inch above average for this time in the year.

"That brings it whole heck of a lot closer to normal," Kam said.

The city's dry summers are often overlooked because of its rainy reputation, said University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Cliff Mass.