Archive | 11:11 pm

Shadows of Rain

29 Dec

The Eskimos have 80 names for snow.  In the Northwest we have 63 names for rain.  Drizzle, more drizzle, heavy drops, splatter and deluge.  The remnants of tropical storms love to roar in from the south and give us such memorable events as the Inauguration Day Storm.  I only remember that one because I took the turtle to bed.  The power was out and the turtle had no heat lamp, so I tucked him in a box under the covers.  He froze with the rest of us in the 40 degree chill that feels like sub zero and freezes everything except water.
The result is endless green fields, evergreens and lawns that need to be mowed on Christmas day.  In waders.  This used to be a rain forest.   Red Cedars as wide as tool sheds gave way to asphalt, farmland, espresso huts, tree stumps and mud.  I-5 cuts through the trashed rainforest, straight into the Convergence Zone.  It sounds like something really cool should be happening there, such as the Enterprise re-materializing or gravity weakening so we could fly.  Instead, rain squalls create mile-long traffic jams.  Convergence zones happen to form, due to a wicked sense of rain- cloud humor, right at the King-Snohomish County line in the thick of the metro area.   They also enjoy dumping inches of snow on unsuspecting commuters at times when it isn’t supposed to snow much.  This results in events such as the infamous 11 hour commute through Seattle during the last big snow storm.
After living for years within the convergence zone’s favorite spot to form, a mold- infested land where “green roof” means someone didn’t pressure wash and trees sprout from rain gutters, we moved closer to  what’s known as a rain shadow.  Rain shadow=good.  Convergence zone=bad.  In the rain shadow, rain stops and dumps on someone else instead of you.  We are at the edge of one, and the sunny disposition of the rain shadow is a welcome change.  Things are straightforward here.  Especially the wind, which can easily gust to 60 mph without breaking a sweat.  This is not a good place to put your boat in a Costco tarp garage unless you enjoy finding a tattered mangled mess around your boat in the morning.  I don’t have a boat, but have witnessed just such a shelter rebuilt three times with duct tape following run-of-the-mill windstorms.
The good thing is that the wind blows the clouds away.  Sometimes we see the stars at night and glorious sunsets.  There’s usually a clearing in the afternoon that doesn’t happen a mere five miles to the east.  We are on the coattails of sunshine,  tag alongs to the rain shadow without quite being in it.
If you have ever survived a Seattle winter, you will know why that is good.