Seattle’s rainy season doesn’t begin until October but, this year, it’s already off to a wet start.
A mix of rain and snow has inundated the east and northwest suburbs of the Puget Sound city since late April, making for one of the wettest falls on record.
“We’ve gotten more rain than we usually get all fall in a year,” said Stefani Negg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Through Tuesday, Washington had gotten a total of 3.86 inches, its fourth wettest fall since 1914, according to the weather service. The fall in 1985 was the wettest, with 4.51 inches falling. The wettest fall was 8.82 inches in 1973. In all, Seattle, which usually only gets an inch or two of rain in fall, has gotten nearly one and a half inches.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a blizzard warning for Snoqualmie Pass and Snoqualmie Valley had been lifted. So did a winter storm warning, meaning that the ground was most likely to be covered in snow or ice but not frozen.
The rains that have been falling since April 23 have nearly overwhelmed the city’s drainage system. Up to 5 feet of water now flows through the city’s drainage channels, Negg said. “Drainage systems were not set up to handle the amount of rain we’ve had,” she said.
The weather has also covered hundreds of miles of road in Seattle and Snohomish County, covered lawns and parks in profuse amounts of water and damaged at least a dozen homes.
But the steady rain is just what the city needs. Seattle has been fighting a monster storm of a warm front that moved into the region in late April, making a mess of the region’s roads and flooding parts of the airport.
“It’s bad everywhere else, but we were kind of ahead of the game in some ways,” Negg said. “We’ve been doing precipitation models on this storm for awhile and said we could get up to an inch of rain a day.”
The deluge has persisted all week. Seattle had more than 3 inches on Tuesday, prompting the weather service to issue a flood watch for several counties on Wednesday. Another 24 hours of rain could send up to 2 inches of rain into Lake Washington, the weather service said.
In downtown Seattle, a parking lot was flooded Tuesday, blocking traffic from turning onto Occidental Avenue. In Redmond, the Skyline Boulevard bridge was closed for flooding. Power outages also persisted across the region Wednesday.
Seattle’s expected rainfall for this fall is likely to reach 5 inches to 8 inches, which could increase flood risks, even if the rain stops on Thursday. But the rain that has caused the delays and headaches for travelers and commuters, doesn’t look to break out again any time soon. The weekend has been predicted to be sunny with no rain or a small shower.
“The next storm system on Saturday is going to help with the snow and might be able to bring more rain into Puget Sound, but it’s not going to be a soaking rain,” Negg said.
Climate scientists say the Seattle area isn’t likely to get a significant amount of snow this winter. Forecasters at AccuWeather have predicted little snow in the region this winter for the first time since 1993.
But Seattle has gotten a lot of snow in the past. The area saw a whopping 35 inches of snow in 2007 and 25 inches in 2011.
The Seattle Times contributed to this report.