Tag Archives: Rain

It was a wet water year; it was a dry water year

Water Year 2017 was a crazy year for rainfall, with a precipitation pattern unlikely to repeat anytime soon, although forecasters say the coming year is somewhat likely to be wetter than normal.

Hansville (click to enlarge)
Chart: Kitsap Public Utility District

If you recall, Water Year 2017 (which began last October) started off soggy with well above average rainfall until December. Last year’s rainfall, represented by the orange lines in the accompanying charts, was not only above average in October and November, but it exceeded the rainfall observed during the wettest year recorded since 1982.

If you follow the chart for Hansville, you can see that last year’s total precipitation stayed above the record year until late January. From there, last year’s total rainfall tracked with the record year until this past May, when the rains practically stopped.

Talk about a dry summer. We got practically no rain until September, with minimal precipitation through the end of the water year on Sept. 30, as shown in these charts provided by the Kitsap Public Utility District.

Silverdale (click to enlarge)
Chart: Kitsap Public Utility District

Hansville’s annual rainfall last year totaled 39.5 inches, about 4 inches off the record of 43.8 inches in 1999. The record would have been broken if the rainfall this past spring and summer would have been normal. The year before — Water Year 2016 — was also a wet one with precipitation totaling 42.5 inches in Hansville.

In Silverdale, which gets a good deal more rainfall than Hansville, the pattern was similar except that last year’s total stayed ahead of the record until early December. The pattern was similar for Holly, one of the wettest areas of the county.

Silverdale’s total for Water Year 2017 was 61.8 inches, well off the record of 76.9 inches set in 1999. Still, the record books show only two wetter years: 1996 with 67.7 inches and 1997 with 64.8 inches.

Holly (click to enlarge)
Chart: Kitsap Public Utility District

Holly’s total for Water Year 2017 was 112.7 inches, second only to 1999, when Holly received 127.5 inches of precipitation. Other wet years were 1995 with 101.1 inches and 1997 with 100.1 inches.

The new water year, starting with the beginning of this month, showed little precipitation at first, then the rains came in mid-October, putting most areas near average, as shown by the blue line in the charts.

Overall, October so far has been a fairly wet month, up to twice the average rainfall in the Puget Sound region. For the nation as a whole, October has been mixed. We’ve seen extremely dry conditions in the Southwest, while up to four times the normal precipitation has been recorded for a swath from the Great Lakes down to the Central states, including the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Check out the map from the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University.

The outlook for the next three months from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows the likelihood for wetter-than-normal conditions across the northern part of the U.S., although Western Washington should be about normal. Meanwhile, the southern tier states are likely to have drier conditions.

A La Niña watch remains in effect. If conditions in the Pacific Ocean continue to develop, we could see cooler- and wetter-then-normal conditions early next year. So far, there is no indication what the annual precipitation for our area might be. But after last year’s turn of events we should not be surprised by any weather pattern.

Amusing Monday: Umbrellas for James Bond, Bozo the Clown

They say it’s going to start raining steadily any day now and that we could be headed for rainy La Niña conditions this winter. So I thought it might be fun to pay tribute to the common — and especially the uncommon — umbrella.

The polite umbrella: Pull a string on the handle to squeeze through tight spaces or walk through crowds without poking someone.

I never knew people could be so creative with umbrellas, whose basic design goes back at least 2000 years when these devices were used by Chinese royalty. It remains unclear whether the first of these folding canopies was used to protect against sun or rain, according to a documented entry on Wikipedia.

Because umbrellas date back to antiquity, I guess I can’t search out the original patent, although it is said that the U.S. Patent Office has submissions with more than 3,000 plans to improve on the umbrella’s basic design. See the entry in Mental Floss.

As for etymology, the word “parasol” comes from the combination of “para,” meaning stop, and “sol,” meaning sun. However, if you want to stop the rain, then the French word “parapluie” comes into play. “Pluie” is a French word for rain, coming from the Latin “pluvial.” So, from now on, you can grab your parapluie when you go out into the rain if you would rather not carry an umbrella.

Raindrops pounding on a special conductive material in the umbrella fabric sets off LEDs to light the way. // Source: Yanko Design

Oddly enough, the word “umbrella” seems to come from the Latin “umbra,” which means shading or shadow, making “umbrella” synonymous with “parasol.” The Latin word for umbrella is “umbella.”

Contrary to common belief, the word “bumbershoot” does not come from Great Britain, and the British do not commonly use this word. Rather bumbershoot was American vernacular, first showing up in a dictionary in 1896, according to an article in World Wide Words.

Getting back to amusing umbrellas, you can go far afield in a search for a stylish, elaborate or finely decorated umbrella. You can seek out whimsy or prankishness in the design, such as in the umbrella with a squirt gun in the handle. You can also find items that meld the ancient with modern technology, such as a blue tooth device to answer the smart phone in your pocket or the miniature video projector for watching movies in the top of your umbrella.

A squirt gun in the handle of an umbrella can break up the monotony of the rain, which refills the pistol.

I’m not sure why I have never written about umbrellas, given the dozens of webpages and advertising sites devoted to the subject. I’ve selected five of the best websites for you to check out:

One video producer gathered up pictures of unusual umbrellas, including some not shown in the websites above. Complete with music, the video can be found on YouTube.

The video below is a demonstration of a specialized umbrella by a one-legged man named Josh Sundquist, who has the greatest attitude about life and problem solving. If you want to know why Josh doesn’t just wear rain gear, listen to what he has to say at 2:23 into the video. And check out Josh’s other videos, including a stand-up routine (no pun intended) about amputees on airplanes.

By the way, I have never owned an umbrella in my entire life, preferring to wear a rain jacket with a hood on most occasions, although rain pants sometimes come in handy. After looking at hundreds of cool umbrellas on the Internet, I think I will choose the perfect one for me. Then again, naaaaah!

It was a wet water year, but then the weather reversed its course

After unusually high amounts of rain fell on the Kitsap Peninsula last fall, this summer is starting out with a most unusual pattern of dryness.

It appears that we haven’t had any measurable precipitation anywhere on the peninsula since mid-June. That’s an oddity for dryness not seen in even the driest year on record since 1990, when Kitsap Public Utility District began keeping rainfall data.

Since May 17, Central Kitsap has seen only 1.4 inches of rain, while less than half an inch fell in Hansville during that time period. That’s barely any rain, given that we are talking about nearly two months. Holly has experienced about 2.4 inches in that time — still way low for the rain belt region of the Kitsap Peninsula. And to think that last fall I was contemplating that we might break a record this year. See Water Ways, Oct 27.

I will admit that I used to avoid writing weather stories for the Kitsap Sun. If an editor asked me to write about the weather, I would think for a moment and promise a “much better” story of a different kind. Now, as I try to keep up on climate change, I find myself fascinated with what I can learn from rainfall patterns — including the extremes you see going from south to north on the Kitsap Peninsula.

If you haven’t been around the area much, you may not know that we get more and stronger rainstorms in the southwest corner of the peninsula around Holly, while Hansville at the peninsula’s northern tip may get a third as much rainfall in some years.

Take a look at the pink lines in the charts on this page to see the average over 25-30 years. The scales on the left side of the graphs are different, but the charts show an average precipitation around 30 inches for Hansville in North Kitsap, 50 inches for Silverdale in Central Kitsap, and nearly 80 inches for Holly in Southwest Kitsap.

These charts also show the rainfall patterns in each area for this year with a blue line. Last year, which had above normal rainfall, is shown in orange. And the year that ended with the highest total rainfall is shown in green.

Hansville is especially interesting, because this year and last year essentially kept pace with the record rainfall year of 1999 as spring ended and summer began. In fact, on May 16 of all three years, the total accumulation to date in Hansville was 38 inches, give or take less than half an inch.

After May 16, the three years diverged in accumulated rainfall, and this year’s dry spell makes the blue line as flat as it can get for an extended period. Last year, the driest time came in April, as you can see from the flat section of the orange line.

July and August are typically the driest months of the year, but that can vary greatly by year. I used to tell people that we Puget Sound residents can expect a full three months of summer each year, but nobody can predict when it will happen or whether it will be divided up, say a week here and a week there.

Anyway, as I mentioned on April 1 in Water Ways, we are on a trajectory to exceed the average rainfall this year even if we get no more rain until the water year is over on Sept. 30. It appears our water wells will survive, but we need more rain for the streams to rise by early fall for salmon to increase their numbers.

Rains in North Kitsap falling at record levels, but a shift is coming

Rainfall in much of North Kitsap has been falling at record rates since the beginning of the so-called water year, which begins in October. If you live in Kingston, January’s rainfall is running well above records kept since 1993 by the Kitsap Public Utility District.

Kingston

For the month of January, 9.4 inches has fallen in Kingston so far. That is more rainfall this January than during any January in the 23-year record. The previous high in Kingston for the month of January was 8.3 inches in 2006.

As you can see from the chart, this year’s rainfall in Kingston (blue line) was tracking slightly above the record until early December, when it took off at a higher rate. January burst forth at an even higher rate.

Hansville

The pattern was similar for Hansville to the north, where rains have been falling hard. Extremely high rainfall in November of 2010 established a record for that year that will be difficult to beat in our northernmost community.

So far this year, Poulsbo (KPUD office) has been tracking the maximum water year fairly closely since October. January 2016 is the wettest recorded at this site. So far in January, it has recorded 11.6 inches. The previous high, 11.2 inches, was recorded in 1998. Thanks to Mark Morgan at the PUD for this analysis.

Poulsbo

Central Kitsap near Bremerton caught up with the maximum water year this past week. And Holly lags behind the maximum water year of 1999 but well above the 26-year average.

If you haven’t noticed, the Kitsap Peninsula is a rather strange place for measuring the rain. Historically the northern tip gets about half the annual rainfall as the southwest part.

Central Kitsap

For the Pacific region as a whole. the well-publicized El Niño effect has grown stronger, becoming one of the strongest El Niño years since at least the 1950s. But that is about to change. Based on sea surface temperatures, we have just passed the peak of the El Niño, and most models suggest that ocean conditions will transition to a neutral pattern by summer. See El Niño forecast graph and the narrative by the Climate Prediction Center (PDF 707 kb).

Holly

According to the CPC report, “El Niño has already produced significant global impacts and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months.”

According to predictions, temperatures should remain above average for at least the next three months. Meanwhile, precipitation is expected to continue above average for the next week or so, decline to average in about a month, then remain below average until at least the first part of May. For a quick look at this graphically, check out the interactive display.

Meanwhile, as the Northwest and Great Lakes regions experience drier than average conditions over the next few months, California and the Southwest states, along with Florida and the Gulf states, will see above-average rainfall.

As observed by the Climate Prediction Center:

“Since we are now past the peak of the El Niño event in terms of SST anomalies, the relevant questions relate to how quickly the event decays and whether we see a transition to La Niña, which frequently follows on the heels of El Niño event, the CPC SST consolidation forecasts a return to neutral conditions by May-June-July and a 79 percent chance of La Niña by next winter.”

The following video describes the current El Niño conditions.

Rainfall and aquifers keep drought away from the Kitsap Peninsula

UPDATE: April 24, 2015
Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, says in his blog that it is too early to be predicting severe drought in Western Washington this summer because of possible late-spring rains:

“I believe the media and some local politicians have gotten a bit too worried about our ‘drought.’ We have NOT had a precipitation drought at all….we are in a snow drought due to warm temperatures. The situation is unique and I suspect we will weather this summer far better than expected.”

—–

The word seems to be getting around about the record-low snowpack in the mountains, which could create a shortage of drinking water and even lead to problems for salmon swimming upstream. Read about Gov. Jay Inslee’s expanded drought emergency, issued today, as well as the last update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CK

Kitsap Peninsula and the islands of Puget Sound are in their own worlds, fairly insulated from what is happening in the higher elevations. In these lower elevations, the key to water supplies is rainfall, not snow, and the outlook for the year is normal so far.

As you can see from the charts on this page (click to enlarge), this year’s rainfall has been tracking closely the long-term average. If the rains are light and steady, much of the water will soak into the ground and recharge the aquifers where most area residents get their water. The aquifer levels tend to rise and fall over multiple years, depending on the rainfall.

Hansville

Casad Dam on the Union River, which supplies a majority of Bremerton’s water, filled in January, well ahead of schedule, said Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager for the city. The dam is scheduled for a normal drawdown, and Kathleen said she does not expect any water shortage.

“We filled the reservoir fairly early this year,” she said. “We are looking pretty good for the summer.”

Holly

October, the first month of the water year, was unusually wet, Kathleen said. December precipitation also was high. The other months were fairly normal for precipitation.

Precipitation in the Puget Sound region is expected to be below average for June, July and August, according to models by the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Interestingly, large portions of the Central and Southwest U.S., Alaska and Florida can expect above-average precipitation. See U.S. map.

precip

Streams on the Kitsap Peninsula are fed by surface water flows and shallow aquifers. At the moment, most of the streamflows are near their historical average. That’s not the case for the larger rivers in the Northwest, which rush out of the mountains. Most are well below their normal flows, as shown by the map with the dots.

Low streamflows usually mean higher temperatures and stress for salmon. Low flows also can affect fish passage in some stretches of the rivers while also reducing spawning areas.

Streamflows

While things look fairly good on the Kitsap Peninsula now, things can change quickly. We have different vulnerabilities than elsewhere. Climate-change models predict that rains will grow more intense in the future without changing annual precipitation very much. That means more of the water will run off the land and less will soak in, potentially reducing aquifer levels over time. Managing those underground water supplies will become more and more critical.

Amusing Monday: Singing songs about water

It has been awhile since we did anything musically for “Amusing Monday,” so I wandered around the World Wide Web and learned that some people have compiled top-10 lists of their favorite water-related songs.

Jonathan Kay, who works for KOR, felt compelled to create a top-25 list of water tunes while working in a booth where he promotes the company’s specially designed water bottles. Check out the blog called “The Water Advocate.”

Jonathan listed “Rain” by The Beatles as his top choice for playing in the background while he made his sales pitch. Others were: 2, “Sloop John B.” by the Beach Boys; 3, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding; 4, “Tide is High” by Blondie; and, 5, “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin.

Before I mention other song lists, I’d like to refer to a website called Songfacts, which compiles songs into dozens of categories and then tells you about each song. Included are facts about the artists and the music with links to the song on YouTube. You can also get the lyrics, sheet music and ringtone, as well as information about purchasing the song.

According to Songfacts, Ringo once said his best drumming was done on “Rain,” which was the first song to use a tape played backward for unusual audio effects. The fade-out vocals at the end was the backwards version of the opening line, “When the rain comes they run and hide their heads.” The rhythm track was played fast and slowed down for the version we hear. It was also John’s first song to explore themes of reality and illusion.

Songfacts lists more than 200 songs with weather conditions in the title, including lots of songs with the word “rain” in them. The list includes six songs titled simply “Rain.” In addition to the version by The Beatles, there are “Rain” songs by:

Breaking Benjamin,

Madonna,

Trivium,

Mika, and

Creed.

Bill Lamb of About.com Guide lists his top-10 rain songs, leading with Brooke Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia.”

Others on the list are: 2, “Here Comes the Rain Again” by Eurythmics; 3, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; 4, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” by B.J. Thomas; 5, “Rain” by The Beatles; 6, “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Ann Peebles; 7, “Umbrella” by Rihanna; 8, “Purple Rain” by Prince; 9, “Rhapsody in the Rain” by Lou Christie; and 10, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters.

Another song list with “Rain” in the title, which includes 30 songs, can be found on the website Epinions.com. Aida Ekberg of Yahoo Contributor Network compiled what she calls “30 songs about rain that rock.” And Michelle Barlond-Smith has compiled 48 videos on YouTube that address the issue of water.

Shifting categories, Jeff Opperman of The Nature Conservancy created his top-10 list of river songs for World Water Day, led by Woody Guthrie’s “Roll on Columbia,” Randy Newman’s “Burn On” and Johnny Cash’s “Five Feet High and Rising.”

When Opperman asked for reader contributions, the top-10 list started with “River” by Joni Mitchell tied with “Moon River” by various artists. Next came “Down by the River” by Neil Young and “Take Me to the River” by Talking Heads and others.

Other categories in Songfacts that include some water-related songs:

Songs with bodies of water in the title

Songs with natural disasters in the title

Songs about animals

Songs about the environment

Songs about nature

Amusing Monday: Baby, the rain must fall

With the weather we’ve had the past couple days, it’s hard to forget the gusher of water coming down upon our heads and changing the landscape in familiar places.

Kitsap Sun photo

Of course, we can’t live without rain — especially if we wish to remain The Evergreen State — but sometimes a little less of it would do us well.

With our rampaging weather in mind, I’ve selected 20 quotes from a variety of sources who apparently have given some thought to the subject of rain.

1. A visit is like rainwater. You pray for it when it stays away, and it’s a problem when it rains too much. — Hebrew Proverb

2. A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods. — Rachel Carson

3. Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. — Traditional Proverb

4. I’m just waiting for people to start asking me to make the rain disappear. — David Copperfield

5. Sunshine is delicious; rain is refreshing; wind braces us up; snow is exhilarating. There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. — John Ruskin

6. A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning. — James Dickey

7. And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. — Jerry Chin

8. Into each life some rain must fall. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

9. Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. — Langston Hughes

10. All was silent as before, all silent save the dripping rain. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

11. He who marries on a rainy day will be happy for the rest of his life. — French Proverb

12. A rose must remain with the sun and the rain or its lovely promise won’t come true. — Ray Evans

13. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. — Author unknown

14. Those who profess to favour freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. — Frederick Douglass

15. Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. — Frank A. Clark

16. Giving advice to the ignorant is like the rain falling on muddy ground. — Iranian Proverb

17. A banker is a man who lends you an umbrella when the weather is fair, and takes it away from you when it rains. — Author unknown

18. Remember even though the outside world might be raining, if you keep on smiling the sun will soon show its face and smile back at you. — Anna Lee

19. The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. When I’m inspired, I get excited because I can’t wait to see what I’ll come up with next. Find out who you are and do it on purpose. — Dolly Parton

20. I can see clearly now; the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.
Johnny Nash

Sources:

Inspiration Falls!
Hub Pages
Said What?

Amusing Monday: Just another rainy day

Today is the first day of summer, and I’m not sure what to expect from the weather. Winter rains just keep coming, crimping Father’s Day activities yesterday and making me wonder what will happen now that summer is officially here.

We are living the stereotype for Western Washington weather. You know the jokes:



  • It only rains twice a year in Seattle: August through April and May through July.
  • What does daylight-saving time mean in Seattle? An extra hour of rain.
  • What’s the definition of a Seattle optimist? A guy with a sun visor on his rain hat.
  • How to predict weather in Seattle: If you can see Mt Rainier, it’s going to rain. If not, it already is.
  • A newcomer to Seattle arrives on a rainy day. He gets up the next day and it’s raining. It also rains the day after that, and the day after that. He goes out to lunch and sees a young kid and asks out of despair, “Hey kid, does it ever stop raining around here?” The kid says, “How do I know? I’m only 6.”

I’m mostly serious when I tell newcomers that you can expect three months of summer in Western Washington — but not all at once, and don’t try to guess when it will come and go.

There’s the joke about the honest weatherman who says, , “Today’s forecast is bright and sunny with an 80% chance that I’m wrong.”

So, with the hope that we’ll get to see some nice weather this year, here are a few riddles, quotes and facts about rain:

Q: What’s the difference between a horse and the weather?
A: One is reined up and the other rains down.

Q:
What do you call it when it rains chickens and ducks?
A: Foul (fowl) weather.

Everybody is talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it. – Mark Twain

Largest rainfall on record: Tropical Cyclone Denise, Jan. 8, 1966, 71.9 inches (6 feet) in 24 hours, La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean off the East Coast of Africa. (See Wikipedia for other rainfall records.)

Weather the Weather

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

Thanks to Julian T. Rubin for compiling most of these rain-related jokes.