The Pineapple Express

December 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A few days ago I was riding the tunnel bus back from downtown and I heard a middle-aged guy talking to the young daughter of one of the other passengers.

A rainy view from Pike Place Market

A rainy view from Pike Place Market

He seemed friendly enough, but he was asking questions that would make me a tad nervous if he were talking to my daughter: “I like your hat. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Where do you live?” The mother was right next to her and the seven-year old couldn’t really give a good description of where they lived, so it wasn’t a big deal, but I noted it. As the bus approached my stop a few minutes later, I began gathering my things and stood up. Then the middle-aged guy came over and stood next to me. “Gonna have a pineapple express this weekend!” he said, nodding emphatically with a knowing glint in his eye. I smiled politely and thought, “What the hell?” I didn’t know what a pineapple express was, but it just sounded like something that I didn’t want to ask some stranger about on a bus. However, my brush-off apparently wasn’t enough — he kept going on about it: “It’s gonna be a good one. Haven’t had a pineapple express in awhile!” Not really knowing how to respond (and not wanting to respond at all), I managed another smile. “Gosh!” I said, chuckling — and walking quickly and purposefully away.

Later in the day, safely home in our warm apartment, I looked up the weather for the weekend. There were articles and warnings everywhere about the upcoming rain and how every river everywhere was expected to flood like crazy. And then I saw it: the Pineapple Express is a climatological phenomenon whereby warm rain from Hawaii blows over the Pacific and ends up along the west coast somewhere. It results in warm temperatures (56 degrees) and torrential rain. I guess that guy was just a nice middle-aged fellow after all.

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Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…

August 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Pico and Sarah in wet-weather gear

The alternative dog-jacket color was orange, so this one won

This past Saturday was our first rainy Seattle day! Last week when I was at Petsmart I ran across a product that I’ve never seen in Texas: a dog raincoat. I know, some of you are vomiting just at the thought of that, but it’s actually really practical for someone who lives in an apartment in downtown Seattle. We want Pico to go to the bathroom outside on both sunny and rainy days, and “wet dog” isn’t exactly something they’re eager to put on a Yankee Candle label.

So I bought one for Pico, and I think it’s pretty cute. It took him a couple hundred feet to decide that the jacket wasn’t some terrible mistake that he had to wriggle out of, but after that he went merrily on his way. We had a nice little walk and he came out of it mostly pretty dry. I guess I’ll have to go buy a second one now that a little girl-puppy is on its way. =)

(Of course, when we get the puppy we’ll have to paper-train her until she is old enough to get all her vaccinations, so it’ll actually be quite a while before she’ll be ready for house training. If things go our way, we’ll actually be in a house by then.)

Pico with his raincoat

Pico with his raincoat

On the rainy street

On the rainy street (photo courtesy of Blake)

“Hope you like rain!”: The climatological facts about Seattle

July 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Do you know what is the appropriate thing to say when you find that someone is moving to Seattle? I’ll give you a hint — it’s not “Hope you like rain!” As it happens, I do love love love rainy days — but Seattle is not the rain capital of the world (or even the US) that everybody thinks it is. From Wikipedia:

At 37.1 inches (942 mm)[80], [Seattle] receives less precipitation than New York, Atlanta, Houston, and most cities of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Seattle was also not listed in a study that revealed the 10 rainiest cities in the continental United States.[81] … Thunderstorms occur only occasionally. Seattle reports thunder on just seven days per year … For comparison Fort Myers, Florida reports thunder on 93 days per year. Kansas City reports 52 ‘thunder days’ and New York City reports 25.

Don’t get me wrong — Seattle does have more rain than Austin. But as a rain-lover this is just fine with me. Whenever I see a glimmering 20% chance of showers on the weather forecast, I watch the radar all day in hopes that whatever little baby shower is floating around will float right over here to our house and then hang out for a while. (This happens wayyy less than 20% of the time. I think there must be some geographic/climatic condition that makes our particular spot receive unusually little rain.)

Another less popular but still frequent response we often get is, “Hope you like snow!” This is also not the right answer. Due to Seattle’s proximity to the ocean, the weather actually stays pretty temperate despite its northern latitude. In fact, Seattle gets an average of only 13 inches of snow per year. Compare this with Cleveland’s 56.9 inches, New York City’s 28.4, and Lubbock’s 10.2. In fact, Seattle gets the same amount of snow annually as Richmond, Virginia — not exactly the snow capital of the world. (You can check the annual snowfall for a bunch of US cities at the NOAA’s site here.)

If you compare Seattle to Austin, here’s what you get:

Two charts displaying weather statistics for Austin and SeattleYou can see that Seattle is only a little bit colder in the winter but way less hot in the summer (and there is way more rain). If you want to see these charts on Wikipedia, here are Seattle’s, Austin’s and a page explaining how to read this kind of chart. Although I’m sure I’ll be a bit colder in the winter, I’m generally pretty happy about the upcoming change in climate.

So! What is the correct response when someone says, “We’re moving to Seattle”? It’s “Congratulations!” :D

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