Skywatch Friday: Olympic Rain Shadow
The Olympic Rain Shadow is a weather anomaly in the northwest interior of Washington State. Weather systems off the Pacific Ocean are split by the Olympic Mountain Range. The result is often clear skies and lower than expected rainfall in their lee. At 06:30 last Sunday morning, it could be clearly seen as a break in the clouds over Whidbey Island. That's it with the pinkish light of sunrise showing through.
Because we sit at the edge of the rain shadow, our precipitation on Skagit Bay is nearly half of what Seattle gets. We experience about 21 inches or 53 cm of rainfall per year. The windward side of the mountain range, on the other hand, can get 200 inches, 5 meters annually. This produces the famous Olympic Rain Forest.
By 10:30 a.m. the wind had kicked up disrupting the rain shadow's break in the clouds. But while the Seattle and Everett areas were getting periodic downpours, our weather continued dry and partly sunny for the entire day.