Why Port Ludlow Area Residents Enjoy All of the Benefits of the Northwest With Only Half the Rain
We’ve all heard the jokes about the rainy Northwest – What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle? Answer – a weekend.
What? It only rains twice a year in Seattle! August through April and May through July.
There’s more than enough weather humor related to Washington going around that it easily leads anyone outside of the area to believe that we’re all walking around sopping wet, all of the time. Of course, those that actually live in Port Ludlow know better. While Seattle may not be as bad as what it’s made out to be, that’s especially true for our area.
The Rainfall Reality
While people who live on the wet (west and southwest) side of the Olympics can get hammered with some 200 inches of rain a year, those who live in the northern region of the Olympic Peninsula, including Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles, get dramatically less. Port Ludlow receives an annual average rainfall of just 27 inches, compared to 40 inches a year and higher in many other Puget Sound area communities. The U.S. average is 39 inches, which means Port Ludlow actually gets significantly less rain than most other towns in the nation.
Typically, Port Ludlow enjoys five times as many mostly sunny days, here in the shadow vs. Seattle – and sitting at the edge of the bay, the water helps moderate air temperatures too, providing a warming effect in the winter and a nice cooling effect on those hot summer days.
Why It’s Drier in Port Ludlow
But in addition to the natural air conditioning and warming provided by Port Ludlow Bay, what else do we have to thank? The Olympic Rain Shadow, also known as the “banana belt.”
The Olympic Mountains serve as a wall that protects the northeastern Olympic Peninsula from the bulk of the rain that moves into the Northwest. The dominant airflow during our region’s rainy days comes from the southwest. As the air runs into the southwestern face of the Olympics, the mountains push the air upward.
When the air is lifted up, it condenses and squeezes out that moisture that it’s holding onto, similar to a sponge soaking up water and then squeezing it out. Think of the mountains like that sponge. That’s why we have vast rainforests on the Olympic Mountains’ southwestern side, which gets 200 inches of rain annually. On the flip side, when the air hits the Olympic Summit, just about all of its moisture is gone. Then, as it heads across the top of the mountains, descending down the northeastern slopes, it sinks. Just as rising air condenses, as the air sinks, it dries out when encountering warmer air near the surface. That results in air that’s already semi-dry, becoming even drier.
Port Ludlow Gets the Best of Both Worlds
While Sequim receives the most benefits of from the Rain Shadow, getting about 18 inches of year thanks to its location, it also tends to be less lush and green than Port Ludlow, which you might say, reaps the best of both worlds. We get to be surrounded by all of those brilliant shades of green and the glistening waters to play on, but we’re unlikely to get dumped on by so much rain it keeps us indoors much of the time. Port Ludlow residents actually enjoy quite a few sunny days, all surrounded by the spectacular bounty Mother Nature – in fact, an average, of 161 sunny days per year.
And, even when the sun isn’t out, winters are seldom below freezing, and there are few days when the weather is so bad that it keeps us inside. Often times, when it rains, it’s more of a light drizzle, and it’s usually not too chilly out either, so we toss on a light jacket and hat and enjoy all that the area has to offer. But not to worry, if you’re concerned about scorching summer temperatures, it rarely gets too hot either – the average July high in Port Ludlow is 71 degrees.
The Bottom Line
It’s really no wonder so many people have been discovering what a fabulous gem we have here in the Northwest. Due to the drier weather the Olympic Rain Shadow offers, and its position over our wonderful coastal areas, it’s an ideal location for enjoying all sorts of outdoor adventures, from hiking, walking, biking and kayaking to golfing and gardening.