Friday, September 5, 2003
Ah, and what a glorious summer it has been
Seattle's Year of the Sun is the envy of a waterlogged nation


It's been a season to covet.

And covet they do.

Consider this nugget from a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution story lamenting that city's sad summer: "Where did our summer go? On vacation. In Seattle."

No lie.

  Catching a nap at the Leschi Fishing Pier
A Seattle man catches a nap -- and the spirit of this dry Seattle summer -- at the Leschi Fishing Pier yesterday. The city's tally of days at 70 degrees or above was up to 59 yesterday, when the mercury hit a high of 86

Photo Credit:
 Karen Ducey/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Less than an inch of rain fell in Seattle between June 1 and Aug. 31, making this the second-driest summer in more than half a century.

And for those keeping score, the city's tally of days at 70 degrees or above was up to 59 as of yesterday, when the mercury hit a high of 86. Temperatures are again expected to climb above 70 today and tomorrow.

With much of the East and South bemoaning the summer that never was, Seattle is still soaking up the sun. Elliott Bay sparkles, iced coffees outnumber steaming mugs and fleece is forgotten.

While storms let loose over the East Coast, Seattleites squeezed chlorinated water from their swimsuits.

We wore wide-brimmed sun hats. They donned rain boots.

"We must have taken your rain," said Kathleen Shevlin, who flew into town with friends yesterday from North Carolina. The trio spent their sunny afternoon sampling seafood at Pike Place Market.

In North Carolina, the sun has been more elusive this year. "It's been rain, rain, rain," Shevlin said.

Ilean and Frank Carter of New Orleans couldn't have been happier about Seattle's crystalline skies.

Swamped by 29 inches of rain this summer -- 10 inches more than normal -- New Orleans is at its most fetid and infested, the Carters said.

Surrounded by the fish stalls at the Market, the Carters insisted that Seattle smells clean and sweet to them.

"There's so much fresh air," Frank Carter said.

"We haven't found a mosquito up here yet," Ilean Carter said. "Or a cockroach," added Frank Carter, conceding the couple's admittedly low standards.

A crew of Hoosiers in town for Saturday's football game against the University of Washington ditched their ponchos after a last glance at the forecast.

In contrast to waterlogged Indianapolis -- where 7.2 inches of rain fell on one day this summer -- Seattle is a desert.

"It looks very burned up," said Beverly Doster, commenting on the patches of dry grass that she could see from thousands of feet up during her airplane's descent into town.

But Western Washington likely won't be thirsty for long.

All warm-weather streaks must come to an end.

Just one weekend after Labor Day, Seattle will return to its rainy roots.

Clouds, rain and thunderstorms on Sunday should end the city's run of 70-degree days.

But is this also the deathblow for Seattle's summer of sun?

"September is really a transition month," said Doug McDonnal, forecaster for the National Weather Service.

"We tend to see the first signs of early fall with some weak fronts moving through the area, but we also tend to still get these fairly extended periods of sunny skies and really fairly nice warm weather."

The weekend forecast is fine by Shevlin, who believes that into every vacation to Seattle a little rain must fall.

"If it was sunny the whole time, we'd have to go back home and say, 'It's not true. They lied. It doesn't rain in Seattle.' "