November 22, 2009

The Wettest, Stormiest Two Weeks of the Year!

During Thanksgiving 1983 this was the only way to cook a turkey in western Washington. This particular turkey looks a tad overdone.

Yes, its right now. On average the last two weeks of November are the wettest, windiest, stormiest time of the year here in the any measure. Take a look at the average daily rainfall (see graphic). There is a rapid ramp up in daily average precipitation in October, with the end of November being ground zero weatherwise. It is almost a tradition here in the NW for power outages during Thanksgiving weekend....sometimes with turkey cooked

on the barbecue. Strangely, December is generally much better...less storms and heavy rains.

Our weather changes around here are really strange...very rapid turn on in fall, followed by a slow improvement starting in early December.

Currently, the central Puget Sound region is roughly 2-3 inches ahead of normal November rainfall. But fortunately, this week the situation is far more benign than last ...with some extended dry periods mixed in. High pressure will maintain a hold through much of the week, with only a few weak weather systems passing through. Thanksgiving travel looks very good.

Special Lecture: I will be giving a noon-time weather lecture ("Is Rainfall Getting More Extreme?") and a book signing at Elliot Bay Books, December 2 at 12 PM. Downtown in Pioneer Square.

101 South Main Street
Seattle WA 98104


  1. If anyone is interested... apparently the Skokomish River Valley got a few inches of snow overnight last night/early this morning.

  2. It's funny, I was just telling a newcomer from the East who felt trapped in rain/wind purgatory, "This is November! It starts to change in December." So it's nice to know there's data to back that up....

  3. Cliff -

    I believe you mean "the last two weeks of November", not "the last two weeks of the year."

    It's striking how short a memory people have for weather, complaining about the November rain as though it comes as a surprise, or personal affront, rather then the system behaving according to plan.

  4. Last year was the exception, all that crazy snow...

  5. It's also been my distinct impression that late November is "worst" for this kind of windy/rainy weather... it seems like North Bend and Carnation are always scrambling to deal with serious flooding right around Thanksgiving.

    So... sort of related, sort of not. I have been following the incredible rain event in England a bit and I'm wondering what would happen here if we had similar weather.
    Day 1: 1.6" rain
    Day 2: 1.1" rain
    Day 3: 0.3" rain
    Day 4: 0.8" rain
    Day 5: 12.4" rain
    Day 6: 1.4" rain
    Day 7: 0.2" rain

    I'm guessing folks downstream of the Hanson dam would be screwed, as would the every-year-flooded river valleys like the Snoqualmie, Skykomish, etc., but what about the rest of us?

  6. Yeah, I'm glad we're having a benign Thanksgiving...because I distinctly remember several T-giving holidays over the propane BBQ :)


    When you do a Turkey over the BBQ right...mmmmmmmmm :)

  7. Yeah, I've always thought as Nov as the worst month. Remember Nov 2006? wettest month in Seattle history, over 11 in rain by Nov 15. Over 15 in by end of month. Ack!

    However.. the Inaugural Day storm, Hannukah Eve storm and last years snow were not in Nov!

    Thanks for your great blog Cliff! Really enjoy and appreciate it.

  8. Just read the 3pm NOAA discussion and it looks a lot more interesting for late Wednesday through Thanksgiving night.

  9. Yeah, you're right Rob. But I remember Cliff blogging last month about looking for model consistancy. Since it was the first this morning, gotta check future model runs before making any changes.

    Also, I thought I read a comment awhile ago about someone putting a jinx on the wind, who was that?!

  10. I wish I could monitor the European models to see what the run to run consistency is. I like to blame the NWS when things don't go the way I like. I like to blame the Mariners lack of being able to reach the world series on the NWS as well...

  11. Loved that 3 p.m. discussion as well. It seems like with the NWS, an exciting discussion like that is usually followed up with an all-too disappointing/windstorm event cancel discussion--i.e. last week. But it IS the Euro model they're talking about...

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I agree about the turkey over the smoker. The standard in my family.

    I distinctly remember the 83 event due to the two loads of sodden laundry that migrated to Moms house for drying. I think the feast was originally planned for the one home that had consistent power, so we came out clean.

    That person already had turkey in smoker so it was a pain free T-day ( except for the laundry migration)

    I am 4th generation Seattle and I never fail to be amazed at people who are astonished year after year by October winds and November rains. And the disappointment that once again we have a pineapple express created disaster.

    I do admit, however , that in my olde age I am less patient with the weather.

    I am sold on this blog for last minute weekend outing decisions.

  14. I only remember one Thanksgiving that was delayed, probably 1971? in Kennewick which had some issue with the power, wind, cold? I just remember the PUD guy walking through the yard to look at the service box or drop line coming into it.

  15. I just looked at the latest forecast does NOT look good for a windstorm on least now...cliff

  16. that was me.. i siad that it was nice that the winds were dying, and that I jinxed everyone that we have another windstorm.

  17. Cliff - Any chance you can comment on weekend weather? I know - it's a ways off. But with the holiday & travelers on the pass for Apple Cup, I'm wondering what my mom will be facing if she trundles over Snoq. to visit.

  18. I will always remember the Thanksgiving weekend in 1990 that the I-90 pontoon bridge sank into Lake Washington. Great visuals as the Tonka Toys tipped over into the lake. This was also the week I had to help my BIL divert a stream from flooding his basement...Ah November.

  19. Hi Cliff - thanks for all you do to educate on the weather! I've learned a ton from you on KUOW, here, and love your book.

    I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Seattle's new snow removal policy. :-) I just heard that Seattle DOT hired a new manager for this from Denver, it sure looks to me like they have a clue now.

  20. December doesn't look better at all... it starts to get worse again and doesn't improve again until the following fall. :(


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

Is Freedom of Speech at Risk at the University of Washington?

Freedom of speech is the essential foundation for a democratic society.  It is also a requirement for a functioning university.   Freedom of...