Report we've had '78 minutes of summer' hit a nerve
Scott Sistek is in the weather business. So around here that means he's also in the therapy business. And what is it that people in therapy want? "I think they're looking for some kind of recognition of their misery, some proof that they aren't crazy," Sistek says. "This time I guess I put a number to it."
Seattle Times staff columnist
Scott Sistek is in the weather business. So around here that means he's also in the therapy business.
And what is it that people in therapy want?
"I think they're looking for some kind of recognition of their misery, some proof that they aren't crazy," Sistek says. "This time I guess I put a number to it."
Sistek is a staff meteorologist for Seattle's KOMO News. Of course he knew our weather is having a worse season this year than the Mariners. But just as sports writers must poke like coroners at our baseball team's stats, Sistek says he had a hunch that our summer was sicker than maybe anyone knew.
"We had some days that went in the books with a high of 76 degrees, but I thought: 'Really? It was pouring that day,' " he says.
He also noticed that the rare nice days have seemed to "fall off the table" — in other words, get suddenly cool, just as you might have been thinking it was finally getting hazy and lazy.
Sistek decided to look back to June 1 to see how much of our summer has actually been summery. Using a minute by minute temperature station at the UW's Atmospheric Sciences Department, he looked for "truly warm summer" moments — which he defined as any time the temperature reached at least 80 degrees.
It's only happened twice, he found. First, on July 2, for all of 12 minutes. And then again on July 6, for 66 minutes.
That's it, Seattle. We've had a grand total of 78 minutes of summer. As Sistek put it, if you went to a movie you could miss it.
Even using a lowered summer threshold of 75 degrees, Seattle still has had only 18 hours and 48 minutes of summer this year. About two-thirds of a day.
Sistek's calculation hit a nerve. His blog post — "Seattle: Home of the 78-minute summer" — shot to the top of KOMO's most-read list and stayed there for two days. It was picked up by MSNBC and run around the nation, to try to soothe people in hot states (at least they aren't freezing) or to mollify us (at least we aren't sweltering).
Sistek's blog (komonews.com/weather/blogs/scott) is one of the best weather sites around. It's partly because he's inventive. But mostly because he uses video and data to show just how whacked the weather in this place truly is.
"Rare July fog greets Seattleites," he announced cheerfully recently. "The rain, clouds and cool temperatures this month have been reminiscent of April. So why not bring in some fog as well?"
When I called him at noon Tuesday, the UW station said it was 59 degrees — about 15 degrees below normal, I pointed out. I must have sounded plaintive, because he allowed that a summer like this wasn't altogether "fair." But then, as a therapist sometimes does, he rubbed it in.
"Did you know Everett hasn't hit 75 degrees once this year?" he said. Which means poor Everett hasn't gotten even one minute of summer love.
He went on. There hasn't been an officially sunny day since July 6, if "sunny" is defined as 30 percent or less cloud cover.
"Plus, the summer clock is starting to run out!" he said, again with the cheer. "In about 10 days to two weeks the average temperatures should start trending down."
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" I asked Sistek. It turns out he's one of those people who loves this miserable weather. You know the type. The worse it gets, the more they insist it's invigorating. Embrace it!
Why go through anger, denial, bargaining and depression, when you can just start at acceptance?
Sistek came by it naturally. He grew up "under the marine layer" — weathermanese for that cold cloud bank that drapes the Northwest coast like kelp. He likes his house to be 58 degrees. He advertises that he has become a "spokesperson for Seattle's growing contingent of rain fans."
"I do love this weather, I honestly do," he said. "But I was born that way."
What about the rest of us who weren't? Should we continue to spend summer sitting in our cars with the heaters running?
You know, someone once said that living in Seattle is like being married to a beautiful woman who is sick most of the time.
So I wonder what my therapist would say if I spent the weekend with someone else. Someone a little more robust. Say, Moses Lake.
Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or email@example.com.
About Danny Westneat
Danny Westneat takes an opinionated look at the Puget Sound region's news, people and politics. Send tips or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His column runs Wednesday and Sunday.
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