2017 Seattle Weather Retrospective and Photos

December 28, 2017 7:13am

Photos by Dustin Guy

As 2017 comes to a close, we can look back at the year as another with plenty of extremes for the record books. Here’s a little look back at a year that featured a little of everything … lengthy periods of wet weather, a record long dry stretch, wildfire smoke from numerous places, a little snow, and a frozen Green Lake. I’ve included a retrospective photo album of some Seattle skies and landscapes.

January began on a chilly note. The first half of the month was one the coldest starts to the month in 70 years. And it was plenty evident in our neighborhood when the lake froze over for the first time in a number of years. By the second half of the month, it was all but a memory and milder weather prevailed. Almost three-quarters of the month’s rainfall fell in just 2 days. Then came February and it was an absolute soaker. So wet, in fact, that it more than doubled the normal rainfall for the month and narrowly missed being the wettest February in Seattle’s climate record dating back to the 1890s.

March arrived and didn’t miss a beat. Much like February, it was extraordinarily wet. It nearly doubled the normal rainfall for the month as well. Those waiting for a reprieve in April from the unrelenting rainfall were probably disappointed. Though early spring-like temperatures prevailed, the rainfall was again considerably above average. Surely May had something better to offer? Indeed it did. Rainfall was almost normal. We had a spectacular thunderstorm outbreak on May 4th, but what you might remember most was the incredible Memorial Day weekend we had. It was the warmest I can remember of living in Seattle for the past 18 years. The three days leading up to the actual holiday featured high temperatures in the 80s and Green Lake was packed with sunbathers.

That taste of summer left June with a lot to match. Seattleites are long familiar with the June gloom that can hang over the city as the summer solstice approaches and the first half of the month lived up to the reputation. The second half was considerably better. In fact, June 25th was our warmest June day in 120 years of records. The mercury climbed to a blistering 96 degrees. Then there was July and it was about as nice as they come … in Seattle or anywhere. No measurable rainfall occurred during the entire month. And it was a large part of what would become Seattle’s longest dry streak on record.

There was a price to pay though. It was one of the worst fire seasons in the Pacific Northwest in several decades. We certainly noticed it here when a thick pall of smoke descended on the region in early August. Despite the cooling effects of the smoke on daytime temperatures, August was the 2nd warmest on record. It was punctuated by a single day of rainfall that brought a record 55 day dry streak to an end. Collectively, it was the driest July/August combo on record in Seattle’s history with a paltry 0.02 inches of rainfall.

Summer held on for dear life in early September, but finally relented in the second half of the month. There was noteworthy outlier though. September 27th and 28th were the latest back-to-back 80 degree days in a calendar year ever recorded. October arrived on a dry note, but the cool, wet reality of a Northwest autumn arrived by mid-month. A welcome dry stretch of weather arrived toward at the end of the month giving us an uncharacterstically dry Halloween for the first time in more than a decade. My kids certainly enjoyed that.

November arrived and gave meteorologists just what we expect in Seattle. Rain. Lots of it. November is our wettest month on average and, well, it was just that. One particular highlight of the month from a climate point of view was November 22nd. It was the warmest night ever recorded in Seattle in November. It never dropped below 56 degrees. This created quite a spectacular layer of shallow fog over Green Lake as warm, moist air settled over the colder lake water and condensed.

And now we find ourselves about to welcome a new year. This December, we experienced one of our longest dry stretches in the month of December since 1999 with no measurable rainfall for 11 consecutive days. Despite that, we’ve been catching up on rainfall in recent days. Mother Nature has a funny way of getting payback that way. And what will 2018 bring? Long range forecasts predict a cooler and wetter than average beginning to the year. But as science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

A retrospective photo collection of 2017 from the Seattle area – much of it taken in Green Lake – is available for your enjoyment on my Flickr album.