I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years and I still love it here. It’s known by various nick names: Jet City (because of all the Boeing jets built here) and The Emerald City (because of all the greenery). Personally, I prefer Drip City because it’s more accurate, thanks to all the rain and the fact that at last count there were at least 1,542 Starbucks locations in downtown Seattle alone.
For many people in the eastern two-thirds of the country, Seattle is this mysterious, faraway place they only know about from Sleepless in Seattle. But there is so much more to this city than a spunky Meg Ryan (although let’s not understate Meg’s importance).
Let me debunk a few myths about my adopted city:
- Myth: It rains here all the time. That is simply not true. The weather here is gloriously sunny and mild with zero humidity – if you happen to be here in August. Otherwise, yeah, it does rain a fair bit.
- Myth: The sun vanishes for nine months of the year, from October through June. Again, utter hyperbole. There are many winters where you may see the sun for long stretches of time – usually during the second week of August.
- Myth: It is so damp here that the roofs of most houses are covered in thick moss. Actually, it’s more like a light dusting. And this also goes for the dusting of moss you’ll typically find on our lawns, driveways, patio furniture, and any toddler who has been left out in the backyard for more than 45 minutes.
Whew! That was that a close call. There was a point earlier this week when I thought I might never see my kids again. Worse yet, I feared that my final blog post might be last week’s lame rant about Sarah Palin. How humiliating. I live in Seattle, and for the past ten days, the entire city has been hunkered down in the grips of an arctic blast so bone-chillingly cold that most of us wondered if we’d ever again be able to venture outdoors in December in flip flops and shorts.
You see, normally the high temperature in Seattle is required by law never to dip below 45 degrees any day from November through May. That’s because of the nearly permanent cloud cover that acts like a thermal blanket to keep us from ever needing to put on gloves or a scarf – which we still do anyway because we Seattleites are extremely fashion-conscious. Oh sure, we might have the occasional fleeting cold front that dips the high temp to 43. But we are a hardy stock. We’ve been known to weather conditions as low as 41 with only mild bouts of panic.
All of that changed last week when suddenly, freakishly, the clouds mysteriously parted. Temperatures plummeted to the low 30s by day and – I kid you not – into the teens at night. It was excruciating. It was chaos. And the only way to survive the brutal blast of frigid air was to put on, say, a Burberry overcoat and matching scarf, and perhaps a pair of J. Crew cashmere-lined suede leather gloves, accented by some Uggs. Now that I think of it, staying indoors might have worked too.
[This message brought to you by the Greater Seattle Tourist Information Bureau.]
Greetings, visitor. Welcome to Seattle. If this is your first time to the Emerald City, we’d like to share some fun facts about our great city to help you plan your trip.
Hey, did you ever wonder why they call it the Emerald City? It’s because everything here is always green. And that’s because it rains in Seattle 342 days a year. Isn’t that fascinating? So bring your bumbershoot and get ready for some fun out of the sun!
When packing for a trip to Seattle, don’t bother about your sunglasses – because you won’t need ‘em!
FUN FACT: Many Seattle residents live their entire lives without ever seeing the sun.
Some Seattleites believe the existence of the sun is a myth, sort of like Mount Olympus of ancient Greek legend. (Ironically, there actually is a Mount Olympus in Washington State – but thanks to the clouds no one from Seattle has ever seen it.)
There is so much to do in Seattle, or should we say so much to dew? If you’re coming in April, don’t miss the Moss Festival, and be sure to catch the always-popular slug races. By all means, set aside five minutes to visit the Seattle Sun Museum, where you can see the amazing mural of photos taken during the legendary SUN-ageddon of August 1935, when thousands of Seattleites feared the world was coming to an end because the sun shone brightly for seven consecutive days.
FUN FACT: Baseball caps weren’t always worn backwards. That fashion trend originated right here in Seattle, when fans watching a baseball game finally realized there was no need for a visor to block the sun from their eyes.
It is a miracle I am alive right now. I could have been a statistic but thankfully, my life was spared. I live in Seattle, which recently experienced a devastating snow storm that shut the city down for five days. The powerful storm became the top story on national newscasts until another nasty storm front with heavy wind(bag)s blew into South Carolina in the form of a Presidential Debate.
Forecasters, predicting the worst storm in four decades, called for 12 to 18 inches of snow in the Puget Sound region. When the last flakes finally stopped, almost six inches of snow covered some areas, proving once again that it is impossible to forecast the weather in the Pacific Northwest. What made it treacherous, however, was that the snow turned to freezing rain, coating roads, trees and power lines with a half inch of ice. This caused hundreds of cars (including mine) to get stuck and thousands of tree branches and hundreds of power lines to collapse. That’s when my terrifying near-death experience began.
At about 5am on Day 1 of Seattle’s Snow-mageddon, our house lost power – lights, heat, phone and internet. Venturing out by car into the blizzard was a foolhardy suicide mission. According to my best estimates, Seattle has exactly three snow plows – four if you count my neighbor Fred’s snow blower. There we were – without power, without heat, without hope, and barely a month’s supply of non-perishable food and beverages. Someone had to venture out for food. That someone would be me.