Friday, April 17, 2009

The Weather of the Pacific Northwest

I've lived in Seattle for ten years now, but up until 2006 or so I wouldn't have seen the point of writing a book called The Weather of the Pacific Northwest (Cliff Mass, 2008) "What weather?" I would've said. "July days are only 20-25 degrees hotter than December ones, on the whole, and you get 8-9 months of cloud and 3-4 of sun. How boring must it be to forecast that. Yep, it's November, ten-day forecast is cloudy with chance of light rain and a high of 50 for all ten days...YAWN. This place HAS no weather." I'd grumble about how in Alabama, where I'm from, we got our rain in proper STORMS (complete with tornado warnings to add some danger to life), none of this measly drizzle. And in Philly, where I spent my college years and mid-20's, you have four proper and distinct seasons, and while the city is paralyzed by snow, at least it was proper snow, and not slush that melts by noon. (Here I'd usually boast of the Blizzard of '96.)

Silly pre-2006 Susan. That Susan had never struggled for over two hours to make the normally ten-minute drive from daycare home after getting caught out in the November 2006 rush hour surprise snowstorm, or stood on her deck watching the creek behind the house spill over into the neighbor's yard during the 2007 floods (not to mention the whole bit where I-5 to Portland was closed for DAYS). And I will never, ever complain again that Seattle doesn't have proper snow after spending a week of my life snowbound back in December. I'm sorry, Pacific Northwest. I was wrong. You DO have weather. Lots of weather. More than enough to fill a book.

Cliff Mass's book is probably only interesting to OR, WA, and BC residents, but for us Northwesterners it gives clear, detailed explanations for everything from why Sequim is so dry to how wind patterns create the Puget Sound Convergence Zone to those funny flying saucer looking clouds that sometimes form over Mount Rainier. (I think the mountain looks like it's wearing a yarmulke on those days, but it's possible I have a strange mind.)

No comments: