September 06, 2012

Drought Anxiety

 The psychological toll is mounting.  

Seattle residents unaccustomed to a record-breaking stretch of sun and warmth are reacting with guilt, anxiety, and discomfort.  I cannot count the number of emails I have received by folks asking when the clouds and rain will return.  For some there is almost a tone of desperation.

 The origins of many of these psychological symptoms can be traced to a number of sources, including:
    (1) we are uneasy with unexpected and unusual weather conditions
    (2)  others fear that we will have to "pay back" later with unpleasant, severe weather.  Many folks believe in a law of balance:  if you have extraordinarily good weather now, bad weather has to follow.  Ancient wisdom.
   (3)  others fear that the drought reflects global warming caused by mankind or is payback for some communal bad deeds.

Media coverage reflects these uncomfortable feelings.  For example, ESPN and other local media sports outlets ask whether the drought might have been caused by a terrible misdeed:  the ejection of the sainted Ichiro by the Mariners.   They note that is hasn't rained since Ichiro left town.  Coincidence or causality?

Others wonder whether the rain will ever return, either due to a communal misdeed or climate change:

Some media outlets are asking citizens whether they want the drought to stop, as if local residents have the power to alter nature's course.  And, of course, this article includes a poll.

But is gets worse than that. 

As many of you know, I have problems with some of the headlines in the Seattle Times, which are often sensationalistic and sometime without factual basis.  (In fact, I got removed from Public Radio Station KUOW for noting an incorrect headline about University of Washington admissions).  But recently the ST crossed the line regarding a headline dealing with its favored gubernatorial candidate and the drought (note: this has NOT been photoshopped). 

Mayor McGinn, well respected for his formidable success in dealing with snow, is taking active steps to calm a nervous city about another potential environmental calamity.   Anyone who is on the Mayor's twitter feed would have received this timely message yesterday:

That is what is mean by leadership.  Today we tied the previous second-longest dry spell and tomorrow we will have passed it. 46 days without measurable rain.


  1. This morning at 5:30am my car was soaked in well as all the plants. I know it hasn't rained, but doesn't this count as precipitation?

    Here's the water pouring off the rear of my car:

  2. dew is not precipitation. Precipitation refers to something that fell from the sky after condensing in the atmosphere. Dew drops actually form on the object you see them on, a car, a blade of grass, a window, etc. Because the air has fallen to the dew point (hence the name).

    And I can't see the photo because I don't have permission it would seem (I'm one of the dozen people in the world without a facebook page)

  3. These people are nuts. I am LOVING this weather!

  4. I agree with Ruth. Why would anyone complain about the lack of rain when it rains ten months of the year. I will never understand the locals.

  5. My lawn sprinkler seems to be working just fine...just keeping my bushes happy.

  6. Drought anxiety?! Give me a freaking break...

    I was ready to leave the area after the crappy summer we had last year, let alone the horrible winter and mind numbing spring. Bring on the sun as long as possible!

  7. The Seattle Times is the closest thing we have in Seattle to a tabloid.

  8. Loving this weather. We know November is coming. Am savoring each hour of this terrific spell of weather.

    People like to complain/whine. I used to live in New England, and got really tired of people whining about it snowing in the winter there. It's New England, it's supposed to snow. I suggested that they move to Florida if they didn't like snow in the winter... Ditto for the chowderheads here that claim to have "drought anxiety" . Go to New England in the summer, it rains all the time there in July and August.

  9. I agree with Chuck.

    Those complaining about the sun and dry spell can move to their cave until the end of the month when the nine month cloud deck returns. Are those the same people buying air conditioners when the temps reach 75? LOL.

  10. i'm pretty sure more people complain about the rain than it not-raining.

  11. Justin, I don't have a facebook page either. We ought to start a club or something.

    As for weather, here in the PDX area, it has also been dry for a long time. I enjoy the sunshine, but am really looking forward to the rainy days- I guess I need an excuse to curl up by the fire with a good book. If I do that when it is sunny, I feel like I have wasted the sun!


  12. People are insane. Why not enjoy this gorgeous weather as long as we can?

    We all know we are getting rain again.

  13. I'm a native Western Washingtonian, loving this weather. Head out for my early morning run or bike ride, basking in dry, relatively warm temps. Savor sun throughout the day. It's like Eastern WA ~ which, the older I get, the more I desire. Damp, dreary weather has its place; I'm all over that through the winter. But I'm sick to death of bland, bleak springs that extend well past June. Alas, this current loveliness will be all-but-forgotten come next June, when we're once again facing the reality that is our new normal.

  14. What fun! Can't wait to see if it rains on Monday.

  15. I think it's largely because it's messing with their identity. This area is known for precipitation and it's what everyone talks about.

    This is messing with their worldview. Makes people on edge.

  16. The only effect this weather is having on my mind is that I am too distracted by it to work inside, and instead want to be outside enjoying it. It is also helping the farmers tremendously by ripening their crops. I don;t know a single farmer's market farmer who is freaked out by this weather - all are enjoying it.

    Perhaps those who are freaked out by endless summer should get out of their cubicles and go outside once in a while. This reaction by some maybe indicates how de-attached we've become to nature, that when it gives us some of the best weather in years, we are immediately suspicious of it!

  17. OMG, there is so much eye candy out at UW. I can't even imagine how it is at WSU. Here's to having a real summer for once!

  18. Hope you're enjoying your "miraculous" thermal trough data, Dr Mass; cuz i'm bleed'n hot [wink / mops brow]

  19. I'm not much of a sports fan, but PERHAPS Ichiro had more of an impact on the weather outlook than people give him credit for...


  20. Drought anxiety? Isn't that the Seattle version of the puritan work ethic? Don't all the outdoorsy types earn the right to play hard and buy expensive gear by virtue of enduring 10 months of rain?


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

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