Seattle, WA’s weather often gets a bad rap in movies and music about being too overcast or rainy, but it has some of the most temperate weather patterns and temps in the whole country. If you’ve never been to the Seattle area and your next assignment will take you there, you should separate myth from fact when it comes to preparing for the local weather.
How Rainy Is Seattle?
You’ve probably seen countless references to how often it rains in Seattle, and you might be surprised to learn that Washington actually receives less annual rainfall on average than New York. However, the misty and temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest means that the Seattle area sees longer periods of wet weather with different seasonal shifts than those seen throughout other parts of the country.
The rainy season in the Seattle area tends to pick up around October and lasts until late June. Many area denizens call the final stages of this wet season the “June gloom,” when the mist rolls heavily across the Seattle skyline and the temperatures remain in the mid 60s. The “true” summer of the Seattle area begins in July and usually lasts well into September. During the fall, you’re sure to see the clouds rolling between the peaks of the Cascades and the Olympic mountain ranges, giving the appearance of a thunderstorm to those from outside the area.
During November, the height of Seattle’s rainy season, you’ll want a warm coat with a hood and shoes that can keep your feet dry. It’s important to note, however, that the wet season doesn’t necessarily mean constant heavy rain as much as it does thick, wet mist and constant drizzle. While it snows in most of the rest of the country, the Seattle area typically only sees a few days of snowfall during the winter months, usually in January or early February.
Take Advantage of the Seattle Climate
Contrary to popular belief, the Seattle area weather actually makes the region ideal for outdoor activities virtually all year long.
- Seattle’s “winter” typically extends from late December through February, but you’ll find that the December weather in Seattle is a lot like fall throughout other temperate areas of the US. Enjoy cycling with a warm jacket or take a stroll through the woods to enjoy the misty scents of the Pacific Northwest’s flora.
- Spring comes subtly, but it seems to last forever in the Pacific Northwest. Flowers and trees start blooming in late February and the comfortable temperatures extend all the way into summer.
- Summer temperatures may not pick up until August, but summer really begins for Seattle in April. Locals start planning summer camping trips and hitting the hiking trails in the area. The “June gloom” only tends to last a few weeks. Once it starts dissipating, the locals know that summer is here. August is the golden month of the Seattle summer, with clear sunny weather in the 70s day in and day out until the fall arrives later in September.
- Fall in the Seattle area is fantastic for outdoor exploration. The leaves change into beautiful golden hues and pile up on walking trails and hiking paths in the area.
Seattle has a reputation as one of the rainiest cities in the country, but this isn’t an entirely accurate description. While Seattle sees more consistent cloudy and wet weather than other areas, some places like Florida and the deep south receive more annual rainfall, but they experience shorter periods of heavy rain compared to Seattle’s more consistent light rain. Seattle is a fantastic area for outdoor activities, so don’t let the reputation of the area’s weather discourage you from visiting and getting outside to explore any time of year.