Whether this is your first or umpteenth season driving in Seattle rain, be warned that, according to the Washington State Patrol, collisions are most prevalent on Western Washington roads following the first rain after a long dry spell.
The region’s wet season has begun, with up to 2 inches of rain anticipated between Friday and early Monday on 21st September in the Seattle area.
The first fall rain sends a summer’s worth of lost oils and fluids to the road’s surface, making the road slippery and traction tricky. People seem to have forgotten how to drive in the rain after a long dry spell, says Trooper Rick Johnson.
He noted that it is not uncommon for traffic collisions and disasters to occur all across the region once the rainy season arrives for the first time.
Winter Forecast: How About Some Rain and Snow?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its updated winter prediction for the country on Thursday 17th September and offered some excellent news for those who enjoy cool, wet – or possibly even snowy – winters.
Long-range forecasts are increasingly confident that a large portion of the Pacific Northwest – particularly Western Washington – is on track to see a cooler and wetter than average winter season.
For the Seattle area, analysts believe there is a better than 40% likelihood of the overall temperature ranging about 0.75 degrees below usual, a roughly 33% possibility of temperature averages falling within 3/4 of a degree, and a 20% chance of a warmer than average winter. There is a similarly high degree of certainty that rainfall will exceed normal — at least 2 inches or more than the standard 3 inches of winter rainfall.
When these two factors are combined, the likelihood of lowland snow events increases-though the danger is still relatively low, just not as low – and this provides an optimistic picture for the ski season. The estimates are based on the rising evidence that the world will experience La Nina conditions for the second consecutive winter, dubbed a “Double Dip” La Nina, with an 80 percent probability of La Nina arriving by winter.
La Nina occurs when the central Pacific Ocean’s waters become colder than usual, initiating a cascade of global weather conditions. One result is that the jet stream is shifted northward to suck up cooler air, which is then pushed into the Pacific Northwest, keeping us chilly and wet during the winter.
Last winter saw above-average precipitation, a healthy snowpack coupled with a lowland snowstorm. While the La Nina prediction does not ensure a similar outcome, the odds are stacked in favor of it.
Keeping Yourself Safe on the Road
After a rainstorm, rainwater can form large puddles and a slick road surface. This makes the slightest error, or even momentary hesitation, lead to a total loss of control.
“We’re lousy drivers in general and things get a lot worse in the rain,” says the Chief Executive Officer of the Driver Training Group, Joe Giammona.
To stay safe in Seattle’s rain, the Washington State Department of Transportation reminds drivers to reduce speed even while driving a 4-wheel SUV, maintain a longer following distance, use headlights at all times, inspect tire treads and ensure that your windshield wiper fluid is fully charged before the rainy season officially begins.
You can also leave early and provide enough travel time to avoid feeling rushed. If you’re annoyed or angry, pull over and take a break, as this is frequently when people are tempted to make a poor decision.
Photo: “After the rain” by user kewing is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0.