The Six Types of Seattle Rain

When I tell people I’m from Seattle, the rain question always follows. There are many variations:

“Does it really rain a lot there?”

“Do you hate living there because of the rain?”

“Are the rumors about the rain true?”

Yes, it rains a lot in Seattle. No, it is not a miserable place to live. Yes, you get used to it. Yes, I do like to walk my dog in the rain and take long runs through the puddley streets. And on and on and on. And so today I am going to educate you about rain, because the forcasts have been full of it since my return to the Evergreen State.

If you don’t live in Seattle, you may not know that there are different types of rain. Yes, I know you thought rain was rain was rain, but you would be wrong. First, and most importantly, there is the drizzle. The drizzle is the most common type of rain in Seattle, and is a slow and steady rain that can last for days on end. It doesn’t ruin your hair, or your outfit, or your day. It just sticks around, annoying and unassuming. And so you adapt because it’s just a drizzle.

Second is mist. Mist ruins your hair. It is the master of frizz. You don’t need an umbrella, rain coat or rain boots for the mist, you just look at it sadly out your window and hope it diminishes quickly. The mist is partial to the morning and is almost never found during a Seattle afternoon.

Packing in slightly more water with it’s punch is the sprinkle. When it’s sprinkling outside, you should probably locate that umbrella, and your hair may react badly to it’s mist-like properties. In Seattle, it can sprinkle for days or weeks or months at a time. Bon voyage, good mood. It can take weeks to recover.

Normal rain occurs very rarely in Seattle, which is a city that has always remained partial to the drizzle/ sprinkle-esque rain storms. However, normal rain interupts your schedule and your life as you slog through puddles in your giant plastic rainboots. Rain makes you look like a variety of drowned rat and can lend to stay-in-bed-all-day feelings. This type of rain is not ideal, yet Seattlites rarely encounter it. And when we do, we’re excited that something different has entered our weather board. With great drainage systems, closets full of umbrellas and a propensity for enjoying puddle jumping, Seattle’s citizens are apt to enjoy this type of rain. I know, I know – call me crazy one more time.

And then there are the intense types of rain, the rain storms that are rarely found on the West Coast but that I experienced in great volume in Europe and during my years in Pennsylvania. The first of these is the downpour. The downpour catches you off guard, leaving you soggy and grumpy. It starts as quickly as it stops, and gives you no way to predict that you may, in fact, need to pack an umbrella in your purse. It jumps up behind you and sends you running towards an overhang, hands perched above your head as if that will keep you dry. Down pours are the worst surprise.

Thunder storms can be fun, but not when you’re outside. Thunder storms are fun when you are cuddled in bed with a book and a flashlight nearby, secretly hoping that the lights will turn out and your next day’s activities will be politely canceled. Thunder storms are incredible when sitting by a lake and watching the rains head in your direction. Thunderstorms are not ideal when riding on a kyak in the middle of a lake, or when hiking through the woods. Duck and cover, my friend.

And there you have it, the six types of rain. So next time you decide to scratch Seattle off of your list, remember that our rain isn’t like your rain. It’s annoying, yes. It’s wet, yes (as all rain usually is). And yes, there are puddles. But perhaps you could use a lesson on the art of dancing in the rain.


3 responses

  1. Hi Jenni
    We were in Seattle some 5 years ago and the guy who was driver/guide on the Show Me Seattle tour had us laughing when he told of the 12 types of rain – one type for every month. Did you leave out sleet, and snow….?

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