Bummer of a summer: Where’s the sun? Where’s the warmth?

  • Thursday, July 21, 2011 12:01am
  • News

Peninsula Daily News

and The Associated Press

SEATTLE — The rest of the country is baking in record summer heat.

Western Washington residents — including those on the North Olympic Peninsula — are bundled up, dealing with temperatures that can’t seem to break out of the 60s.

In perennially sunny Sequim, chilly rain dampened the Lavender Weekend festivities Saturday and Sunday.

It was the worst festival weather in 15 years, though visitors and vendors soldiered through it.

Even in Seattle, a place used to rain and clouds (and often 5 or 10 degrees warmer than the usually cooler, drier North Olympic Peninsula), the gloominess is getting on people’s nerves.

There are different ways to measure the frustration.

A Seattle TV weatherman counted the minutes — yes, minutes — that the temperature has hit 80 degrees or higher.

(He said 78 minutes, by the way.)

And annoyance has been spilling out at roughly 140 characters at a time.

“Seriously Seattle! Can we have any kind of a summer? Ahh C’mon,” one Twitter user said.

Another tweet: “MISSING: Hot, sunny summer. IF FOUND please return to Seattle as soon as possible. REWARD offered.”

It’s been a month since the summer solstice — and there have been only three days with temperatures above 80 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s measuring station.

The coldest day had a low of 62.

To make matters worse, rain has dampened more than a few weekends.

But statistics might be telling another story.

Jay Neher, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said Wednesday that on average, “July has only one degree below normal.”

And Neher isn’t complaining.

“It all depends what you think is cool.

“If you consider below 80 cool, then it has been cool.

“I did notice that we had only three days below 70 in July. That doesn’t sound too bad for me.”

But for KOMO-TV News forecaster Scott Sistek, high temperatures aren’t telling the whole story.

In a blog post that spread around Seattle this week, Sistek — who grew up in Port Angeles, where his parents still live — said temperatures have been dropping fast.

He writes that July 2, for example, the high temperature hit 81 degrees during the day — but dropped to 64 by 9 p.m.

He said it was 80 degrees or higher for only 12 minutes that day.

Sistek said he went over minute-by-minute temperature reports from the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department, which measures temperatures at the school’s Seattle campus, about 20 miles north of Sea-Tac airport.

He found that there was just one other day where temperatures hit 80 degrees or above — July 6, for 66 minutes.

The total isn’t even as long as an average summer movie.

And Sistek said there were nearly 19 hours of temperatures at 75 degrees or cooler.

“The Pacific coast has been the only safe haven for excruciating heat, so maybe staying cool isn’t such a horrible thing,” he wrote on his blog.

“But we realize that there are a lot of sun fans out here who realize hot weather is rare enough in a normal summer, much less this one.

“So next time the temperature climbs to 80 degrees, run — don’t walk — to your nearest beach. It might be all you get.”

Besides collective complaining, the dreary summer so far has had a real impact on some — especially those who depend on the sun to make a living.

Devin Carroll, manager of Urban Surf, said sales of “clothing, sunglasses and swimsuits have definitely been affected a lot.”

Carroll added, “So far, we haven’t seen much of summer.”

At a boat rental shop on Seattle’s Green Lake, only four or five boats are on the water when it’s cloudy, manager Nicole Birgh said.

“On sunny days, almost all of our boats would be out on the water,” she added.

Birgh’s shop has 37 paddleboats total, along with an additional 40 vessels, ranging from kayaks to paddlebikes.

Cliff Mass, a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences, said the cloud patterns are the opposite of July’s usual pattern.

Instead of wet and cool at the beginning of the month, those days came in the middle of the month.

Mass said the final week of July and the beginning of August are typically the driest weeks of the year.

What has irked people, Mass said, is that the state had one of the wettest and coldest springs in years — and people expect the sunshine by now.

The forecast calls for a drier weekend, then back to clouds, Mass said.

He said there are signs the cloud trough in the eastern Pacific that has been causing all the problems is weakening.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “I think probably we’ve been through the worst.”

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