Monday, July 14, 2008

Should I Bring an Umbrella?

Okay, let’s address the pink elephant in the middle of the room. When Seattle comes up in conversation everyone wants to know about the weather. Now, while admittedly it does rain a good number of days here, let the record reflect that, no, we don’t all have webbed feet. And, let me share a factoid that Seattleites are prone to frequently share: in terms of annual precipitation both Chicago and New York experience more total rain fall than Seattle. It just rains here more often – but in smaller amounts. And, the Puget Sound region occasionally has summer draughts, and even water conservation (FYI: our water supply actually comes from the mountains and is contingent upon snow fall.) That’s why this is such a green city, hence the moniker the Emerald City. A typical “rainy” day, however, consists of fluctuating periods of mist, drizzle, showers, and sun breaks (described in an earlier blog entry.)

As the boilerplate states “The Puget Sound Region has a mild, moist climate. This is sometimes called a marine (ocean) climate because of the closeness of the Pacific Ocean. The mild ocean water keeps a constant temperature, not too hot or cold. This keeps the air and land nearby at mild temperatures.”

Okay, enough of the official line from the tourist bureau (actually, however, rumor has it that Seattleites intentionally exaggerate the rain when speaking with enchanted visitors to discourage more migration here…)

I imagine you want to know what the weather is apt to be like in late September during the conference. Well I wouldn’t venture a guess due to the mercurial nature of our weather in September. However, if you don’t like the weather we recommend that you simply wait 15 minutes and then it is sure to change.

Anyway, in September the average high temperature is 70 degrees; the average low is 52. On average we get 1.63 inches of rain (but who’s counting?) and there will be rain nine of the month’s 30 days. Seattleites smugly state that you can always tell a visitor because he is the one carrying the umbrella.

While our adaptation to our “marine” climate is one of the reasons most people wear polar fleece (easily brushed off or wrung out), natives actually do employ umbrellas, but typically only when it actually rains (as opposed to doing so during mist, drizzle, or light showers). So, don’t bring an umbrella, they are actually available for sale here.

And by the way, the local term for umbrella is bumbershoot, also the name of our famous urban music and arts festival at the Seattle Center, scheduled this year August 30th through September 1.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University