And a squishy holiday to you, too. Here we are, on the Winter Solstice, and the Pineapple Express from Hawaii has arrived, again. It is a time for ponchos instead of parkas, galoshes instead of ski boots, and many people being thankful they don’t have to shovel the precipitation. Be careful around those puddles, though. It can be hard to tell how deep they really are.
A previous post has some helpful links to the atmospheric rivers that arrive on North America’s Pacific Coast. Tropical water sucked up into clouds, carried thousands of miles in saturated clouds over a hundred miles across, that then turn to days of rain as the air meets the land. They aren’t as dramatic as hurricanes. They don’t get their own names. Footage on the news has to wait for the flooding to start before there’s something for a reporter to stand in. This is a weather event that lives up to the infrequently correct reputation of the Pacific Northwest (aka the Pacific Northwet – and old joke to those who live here).
Locals don’t need to reference a thesaurus for names for rain. The local weather tends to the nuances of light precipitation: mist, drizzle, sprinkles (not the kind found on ice cream). We rarely get the equatorial downbursts, deluges, and monsoons. In the middle are showers and rain, which get their own variations of scattered, occasional, or spotty. For the frozen versions, go north or climb the mountains for everything from freezing rain to blizzard.
A Pineapple Express hits like a long stream of unwelcome bills, something that is readily dealt with even in small surges; but that becomes more than a nuisance when it arrives heavily, steadily, and is unrelenting – or so it seems. Now is a good time to check gutters and ditches, to make sure drains are draining, and to keep in mind that some slopes want to slide when wet enough.
This particular episode may mark a divide between those who decorated during the dry when it was easier but chillier to hang lights under clear skies and light winds.
As bad as it can sound, Whidbey Island has less to complain about than most of the region. The rain won’t miss us, but the Olympic Mountains create a rain shadow when the storms approach from just the right angle. It is only by luck that the entire island will be protected, but one end or the other has less to worry about than the other. Those in the middle quietly enjoy the driest climate on the island, even during events like this.
Cheer it or complain, the rain won’t care. It has its job to do. Our aquifers get a chance to refill. Streets either get washed clean, or have debris flow onto them. A lot of luck is involved.
It is hard to make a rain-man, but don’t be surprised if the kids don’t care. They might just like those extra deep puddles and a chance to splash and play. Maybe there’s a lesson for the rest of us. Ho. Ho.