Washington weather patterns have changed

When I moved to Washington about eight years ago, one of the things I instantly noticed was different from the other places I had lived was the weather. It was so strange to me that instead of pouring down in storms like it had in New England, rain came down as a sprinkle or drizzle and would start and stop every couple of minutes. Clouds were always in the sky and huge amounts of snow would fall every other year or so.

In April of this year, however, Washington broke multiple heat records, some that hadn’t been broken for 122 years prior. Blue skies are getting increasingly more common and spring and summer seemed to be coming earlier and earlier for the past three or four years. Additionally, rainstorms are becoming increasingly more common, knocking down trees and damaging power lines leading to tens of thousands of homes in Washington. Something has definitely changed.

One of the most noticeable changes in weather is the temperature. On April 18 of this year, Seattle reported temperatures up to 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day, multiple radio stations were reporting on it, but everyone said the same thing: Seattle was the hottest city in the entire country on that day. Eight years ago, however, someone living in Seattle would have had an entirely different April 18. According to MyNorthwest.com, a news website compiled together by Kiro Radio, 710 ESPN Seattle and AM 770 KTTH, it was so cold in Washington on April 18, 2008 that it snowed in parts of Western Washington, including Seattle and King County. Of course, this was only one day, but the entire week of April 18 was extremely warm this year.

Additionally, snow seems to be a thing of the past, as Western Washington hasn’t had a major snowfall in three or four years as far as I can remember. In 2008, my first year of living here, there was a huge snowstorm. At one point, the snow went up to my 5-foot 4-inch mother’s knees. Ever since then, the amount and frequency of snow has been going down, eventually just becoming a paper-thin layer in the morning that melts to slush by the afternoon.

As well as heat coming earlier, rain and wind storms are becoming more frequent in Washington as are power outages. In 2016, there have been two major power outages that were caused by windstorms and both of them killed the power to tens of thousands of Washington homes. In January, February and March of this year it was not uncommon for one to be stopped on the road the day after a windstorm by construction workers who were trying to clear a fallen tree or get a creaky one away from a power line.

Clouds are also becoming less common. It used to be a “wow, that’s so cool” moment when some blue sky was visible, but now people are used to it. Instead of rain drizzling every few minutes, clouds build up for a few days and then more heavy rain pours down for hours. Of course, there are still periods of time when rain drizzles in true Western Washington fashion, but they are becoming less frequent as time progresses.

This kind of change in weather makes me wonder if this has anything to do with global warming. All of the evidence seems to point in that direction. First of all, it is getting warmer earlier in the year. According to MyNorthwest.com, a Climatologist Cliff Mass has been receiving questions from a multitude of people who have also noticed these changes. “I can’t tell you how many people have told me they are worried about a repeat of last year: very warm spring, water issues, low snowpack, wildfires galore, terrifying blobs, and all the other unpleasantness of last spring and summer,” he said.

Because of this, blue skies are more common and rain is less so. I think that people need to increase their efforts to combat global warming in order to make sure that this ever-changing weather doesn’t get out of hand.