Seattle has a reputation, well perhaps several. It may be known as the epicenter of coffee snobbery. It is also known among sports fans as heartbreak central, boasting only one national championship in pro sports history, the 1979 NBA championship by the Supersonics, a team which no longer exists, having been hijacked to Oklahoma City. There was that 1991 NCAA football championship shared between the University of Washington Huskies and the University of Miami. There have been some other good teams, like the Seahawks that made it to the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Stealers (sic) in 2006, only to have the officials take the game away. And there was the Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson Mariners team that beat the Yankees in the American League Divisional Series in 1995, only to lose to the Cleveland Indians for a shot at the World Series. (This was not the only playoff appearance by the Mariners, but this was the season that led to the building of Safeco Field and the blowing up of the Kingdome.)
But what is Seattle best known for? If you guessed The Space Needle or the Pike Place Market or the headquarters for Microsoft, you are close, but no cigar. (Note – Microsoft is in Redmond, not Seattle.) You know the answer: Seattle is best known for rain. However, with only 37 inches of rain per year Seattle doesn’t even make the list of the top 50 rainiest cities in the U. S. Of course, if you consider the average of 226 cloudy days per year, many with drizzle or mist, one can be forgiven for thinking it’s the rainiest city in the country. It has been said the Eskimos have more than 100 words for snow and Seattleites have a like number of words for rain. This is a language myth as far as the Eskimos are concerned, although I have personally come up with 20 words describing rain.
Because I grew up in Seattle, I thought I knew rain. Ha! I recently moved to Panama, and I want to set the record straight where rain is concerned. When it comes to rain, Seattle is strictly minor league. This year in Boquete, Panama, where I live, we are up to 65 inches of precipitation so far having not yet entered the rainiest months of September – October. Every day between 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. the dark clouds roll south over the mountaintops surrounding us, and the echoes of thunder can be heard. Sometimes we get serious lightning, which is quite a show. Just this week we got hit with a lightning storm lasting over an hour that descended directly upon us from the surrounding ridges. Every utility pole in sight got struck at least once. The lightning was like sitting in the middle of a launch site at a Fourth of July fireworks display, and the thunder was louder than a boom bass car stereo at a West Hollywood stoplight. Add three inches of rain in four hours and you begin to get a feel for what real rain is like. And the amazing thing is the volcanic soil is so porous that the next morning there were no puddles.
Of course, the benefits of rain cannot be overstated, hinting at why Seattle typically rates high on lists of Most Livable Cities. The west slope of the Cascades is home to some of the greenest, most fertile land in the world, which is also true here in Panama. What I love most are the amazing shades of green that surround us. Everything grows here! It’s a rainforest that, at our elevation near 4,000 feet, is like perpetual Spring. Daily temperatures are typically 70 – 80 degrees most days, and the nights cool off to about 60 degrees. The hummingbirds love our garden flowers, and butterflies float by regularly. I even have a banana palm in my garden.
There is more to say about Panama, and I will share some of my stories as a visitor in this fascinating foreign land.
Note – It has been said you can always tell a tourist in Seattle – they carry an umbrella. Natives wear Gore-Tex™ parkas. (I have three.)
For the record Mobile, Alabama, tops the list of rainiest cities in the lower 48 states with 66 inches per year average. Ketchikan, Alaska, averages 137 inches per year, and Hilo, Hawaii, gets 126 inches per year. (NOAA statistics)
I haven’t been to Mobile. However, like Ketchikan and Hilo, I’m sure it is beautiful.
My family and I just visited Seattle in June on our way to Alaska (cruise). LOVED IT! And we had a few minutes of a misty rain and that was it the four days we were there!
I love hearing people’s experiences in Seattle. My wife and I were there in June also, and though I knew my way around, it wasn’t like I knew it like home anymore. If I didn’t know it so well from years past, I think I would enjoy it more like you did. Like all living things, it has grown and changed, which isn’t a bad thing. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.
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Thank you for bringing the formatting issues to my attention. I hope the compatibility problems are not on WordPress. I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for reading. I hope you return frequently as I attempt to add content to my website at least weekly.
In my own blog I’ve often mentioned the rain here. A couple of years ago when I was house sitting in Potrerillos Arriba we had an unusual amount of rain in August and September of that year. We got a bit over EIGHT FEET of the liquid sunshine! Not for the YEAR, but in those two months alone.
People back up in the States have an odd idea about what the “rainy season” is about. Somehow they picture us hunkered down 31 (that’s 24/7), our skin indistinguishable from that of a prune and that everything, ourselves included, covered in mildew. They haven’t the slightest idea about how glorious the mornings are. How you have to adapt to the season…Get up, get it done, get home and then sit down with a good book for the couple of hours in the afternoon that it’s really going to come down. In the little more than two years I’ve been living here I honestly can’t remember more than four or five times when its rained all day long, unlike up north.
But, now that I think about it for a second, I think we SHOULD perpetuate the myth that the rainy season is unendurable or else more people will want to move down, too.
Ha ha – I often told people whose impression of Seattle and environs was that it rained all the time that they were exactly right in hopes that they would add to and embellish the myth. It did seem to get a little crowded in Seattle. Now I’m just another tourist when I go back, except I know all the shortcuts for getting around. Thank you for your thoughts.