August 15, 2019

Where are the best summer breezes in Seattle?

It is warm night.  Your home or apartment is kind of stuffy.   You are looking for a park or outdoor area with a cool, refreshing breeze.

Where do you go?

This blog will provide some guidance based on years of searching for that special breeze and exploration of the regions weather.

Number One.  The Kite Hill of Magnuson Park in NE Seattle.

It doesn't get any better than this.  The Kite Hill is an artificial "peak" perhaps 150 ft high, on a peninsula sticking out into Lake Washington.   Cool breezes are channelled north-south down Lake Washington, as part of the regional wind feature called the Sound Breeze.  The Sound Breeze develops each afternoon and is really a regional sea breeze between the land areas of Puget Sound and the cool water of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean.

The Magnuson Kite hill has excellent exposure from several directions, allowing unimpeded breezes, and the views of the Cascades, Lake Washington, and Mount Rainier are exceptional.

How strong are the winds there?  There is no anemometer at the top of the hill, but there is one at Sand Point Sail, a short distance away and located near the water.  Here are the winds for the past week.... most afternoons get to around 11 mph, some as much as 15 mph.  Not too strong, not too weak.  Perfect.

So for consistent summer breezes plus view, Magnuson Kite Hill is number one.

Number Two:  Discovery Park

Discovery Park shares important attribute with Discovery Park:  it is located on a peninsula sticking out into cool waters, with much of the park at some elevation.  Plus magnificent views.    But it does have a feature that can I say this delicately?....provide the breezes with some aroma.

There are two main breeze venues in the Park.  One is near sea level down by West Point, at whose tip there is a Coast Guard station.  Temperatures are almost always cool there and winds are reliable, particularly in the late afternoon (from the aforementioned  Sound Breeze).  The winds at West Point Light House (below) demonstrates this, with winds of 10-12 knots.  And during stormy periods, the place is just howling.

But West Point has an issue--a massive sewer treatment plant that can make the breeze a bit potent. And it is quite a walk to West Point.

The other location is up on the bluffs--good exposure to southerly winds and a grant view.  But summer northerlies can have difficulty reaching that location.

Number 3:  The Northwest Coastal Parks:  Shilshoe, Carkeek and Richmond Beach

These locations on the NW Shoreline of Seattle (and Shoreline)  don't offer much elevation, but have decent exposure to northerly flow on the shore, but can rapidly warm a hundred or so feet inland.

A location near Carkeek Park (northern star in figure) has sustained winds reaching around 5 mph, with higher gusts.  Not quite the same breeze as the first two locations I noted.
There are, of course, some decent locations south of of downtown (Alki, Lincoln Park, Seward Park).  Alki can get a good summer breeze (but less than the northern locations), and even less so for Lincoln and Seward.   A plot of Alki Beach winds for the last week are shown below.
Anyway, this is the season for evening northerly breezes in central Puget Sound...enjoy them.  One of the jewels of living around here.


  1. Many's the time I was out on the Sound in the sailboat, baking under the midday sun for hours, waiting for the (expletive) Sound breeze while the water is glassy calm and the motorboats buzz by. Or, if I get really impatient, I turn on the boring old motor and join them. Them, about 5:00 pm, the wind finally arrives- about the time I want to drop anchor, get out the wine and cheese, and start dinner! Very frustrating sometimes. During the summer, sometimes only the evening has wind. It can start so late... seems to max out around 7 PM.

    Meanwhile the wind will blow until midnight, and the next morning- glassy calm again! Though there may be a weak land breeze from the south in the morning until about 11 AM.

  2. This is great info, Cliff thanks for sharing! Time to go out and fly a kite!

  3. Cliff,

    I am trying to enjoy the last days of summer and appreciate knowing where to catch the breeze.

    Autumn will arrive soon enough. I enjoy it too, but I will miss the long days and carefree attitude I allow myself generally in summer and it's sunshine, relaxation and breezes.


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