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The Olympic Rain Shadow is a small region
northwest of the city of Seattle which experiences significantly dryer and
brighter weather than surrounding locations. The rain shadow encompasses the
towns of Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Coupeville, and Victoria BC, as
well as much of the San Juan Islands. For details on climate,
precipitation, and an
Olympic rain shadow map, see our location page;
for current conditions, check our
Sequim weather station, or click here
for a detailed
Sequim weather forecast.
Just how much sunnier is it in the Olympic
mountain rain shadow than say Seattle? That is a question many have asked,
but few have been able to answer convincingly.
For that reason, we launched this site and
measured the actual solar radiation near the center of the rain shadow for a
year, and then compiled a detailed
Olympic rain shadow - Seattle sunshine report which analyzes sunny vs. cloudy days in the rain shadow versus downtown
Seattle. We also have summary reports for
Anacortes sunny days
Port Angeles sunny days
over the same period of time.
Here are some highlights from
days of sunshine
- Winter (Nov-Jan) saw 5X as
many mostly sunny days in the shadow vs. Seattle.
- Winter saw only 1/4 as
many dreary days in the shadow vs. Seattle.
- Spring (Feb-May) saw the
highest number of "rain shadow" days per month, at nearly 8!
- Summer (Jul-Sep) saw rain
shadow areas and Seattle with nearly equal mostly sunny days.
- Port Angeles was
definitely *in* the rain shadow, with quite similar benefits to Sequim.
- Anacortes was on the north
eastern fringe of the rain shadow.
After reading about the "shadow" you might
consider a visit. Due to its drier climate and position over
stunning coastal areas, it is often an ideal location for many outdoor
activities, including bicycling, kayaking, windsurfing, hiking, golf, or simply
Our weather forecast, directly from
the national weather service, provides the best seven day forecast available.
For even more perspective, browse our meteorology page or blog posts to
understand a bit more. A relatively specific set of conditions often produces
rain shadow effect.
The best way to stay current on the "shadow" is to "fan us" on Facebook, (facebook.com/olympicrainshadow), where we post
periodic news blurbs. These will let you know about interesting blog posts, or cool new photos in our
photo gallery. The
is quite comprehensive and we and others have posted and commented on on
a variety of topics, such as "Does the Pineapple Express consume the Shadow?",
or "A Winter trip into the Olympic Rain Shadow".
Our studies have allowed us to look into a
number of myths about the rain shadow, and verify a number of our informal
Myth - Sequim sees "300+ sunny days a
year"; that may be true, but only if you count sunny days as those with brief
moments of sunshine.
- We found there to be 254 days with at least partly sunny skies, which included
127 mostly sunny days.
- Spring months are relatively sunny in rain shadow locations.
Myth - Sequim = rain shadow.
- Port Angeles, and likely Port Townsend, W. Whidbey, the
S. San Juans, and Victoria are also rain shadowed.
Myth - The rain shadow is a tropical
- It actually has a quite cool, but clear, sunny, and windy climate overall.