<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Dec. 6, 2023

Linkedin Pinterest

Swimming, salons and sewers: How Seattle is coping with record rain


Seattle — Never let it be said that the Seattle area can’t handle a little record-setting rain.

On Saturday morning, as the area recovered from the fourth-wettest 48 hours on record — 4.57 inches on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service — a line of people stood in the rain waiting to get into the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion. They wanted to get into the pool.

“The regulars were waiting at the door, in the rain,” one employee said. “And we had a constant flow all day. Better to swim inside than to float away outside. They come in wet, and they leave wet.”

That will never happen at the Swink Style Bar in downtown Seattle, where clients trudge in with wet hair and walk out, blown out.

The salon — which specializes in quick blasts of beauty, like hair styling, makeup and lash extensions — has a waiting list, not only because of the holiday season, but the rain that has accompanied it.

“It’s not normal,” said employee Vu Pham.

All five of the salon’s blow dryers had been going since 10 a.m., when customers started coming in, looking flat — and grateful to be coiffed.

“The only thing is getting them from the front door to their car or Uber,” Pham said over the din.

For that, staff members walk beside newly dry clients with a giant golf umbrella.

Saturday’s showers were a bit of a respite from Friday, which saw the most rain on Dec. 20 — 3.25 inches — since record-keeping began at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1945. (The previous record of 1.93 inches was set in 1955.)

The heavy rains made for messy traffic Friday, scattered mudslides and at the King County Wastewater Treatment Division’s Medina Pump station, a sewer overflow that prompted officials to notify health and regulatory agencies and post signs at Medina Park Beach warning people to avoid contact with the water. King County will test water quality over the next several days.

The pump station was operating properly, and at full function, but the rain exceeded the station capacity, and an overflow occurred from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Bryce Kennedy, owner of Seattle Drain Service, knew the area was due for a deluge. He reads the Farmers’ Almanac religiously. It’s been a dry year, which meant the roots of people’s plants would slither into drainpipes seeking water, and stay there.

And when the rain started, well, everything would be clogged up, and the water would start to back up.

“It’s the Pineapple Express that rolled through, and annihilated the basements,” he said.

Kennedy usually gets 20 emails a week asking for service. In the last three days, he’s gotten 30. Flooded basements. Flooded yards. Standing water.

Kennedy, outfitted in rain gear and heavy boots (“you would not want me to wear them inside”) arrives armed with flexible pipe to install on downspouts to divert the rainwater. He offers to come back when the rain stops and figure out what went wrong.

“Half the people want it to be done, frantically,” Kennedy said. “And 50 percent let it fade away because this kind of rain won’t happen again.” He let out a chuckle.

“If more people were to do a diversion,” he said, “they’d save themselves a lot of property damage.”

Sunday is expected to mostly cloudy, with a high of 45 degrees. At night, the rain will return and temperatures will drop to 38 degrees. Rain is forecast Monday morning, with a high of 44. Tuesday will be sunny, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg.

Christmas? Mostly cloudy, he said. Slight chance of rain.

And the pool will be closed.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo