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Olympic Peninsula, Wa

Precipitation for the Olympic Peninsula in 2013: What Does it Mean?

The Elwha River

The Elwha River


We all know that the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park get a lot of rain. Aside from the elderly living in the rain shadow near Sequim, the people of the Olympic Peninsula should have webbed hands and feet. To say we have rainy days is an understatement. Rumor has it that the old saying “When it rains, it pours” was created to describe the summer of 1983 along the Hoh River. That July, the city of Forks received 10.48 inches of rain. This rain is why the Olympic Peninsula is home to such a beautiful and amazing rain-forest Eco-system.This rain is why the area is so green and perfect.


Rain is part of our culture here in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t use umbrellas. We don’t wear rain boots and we don’t expect a White Christmas. Winter on the Olympic Peninsula has more than 50 Shades of Grey, as every minute of daylight seems more ominous than the last. Winter is when we pick up hobbies, catch up on reading and remember that not every day can be paradise. The sunny days in the summer make this all worthwhile, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but they led us to this:


Many of us wouldn’t mind a nice, mild, dry winter. In fact, if you look at the yearly totals around the Peninsula, we aren’t looking too bad. The city of Forks is 94% of normal rainfall to date. Sequim is 88.35% of normal, while Aberdeen is at 113.65%.


While few will complain about a little less rain, this year is cause for alarm. Over the summer, the Olympic National Park fire level reached high, causing a burn ban across the region. This Fall, the October rainfall in Forks was at a 10-year low. The nearest dry October on record was in 2002, when Forks only received 1.42 inches of rain. Granted, the year of 2002 ended with Forks seeing 11.82 inches of rain.


The City of Forks has received 78.04 inches of rain through October, 2013. While this is around average, it doesn’t tell the whole story. What alarms me isn’t the rainfall amount, but the summer and fall totals. If you have spent time outdoors this year, you will notice a stark contrast to the last few years. The snow is melting at high elevations instead of staying as a base. The rivers and creeks are lower than normal and the Chum Salmon run, while amazing, hasn’t gotten away from the main rivers. McLane Creek should be stocked full, but the water level is so low that the bridge doesn’t seem to needed to cross to the other side.


This is something we need to pay attention to, as the health of the rain-forest depends on an extremely wet winter. Who knows, maybe after a few record rainfall totals for November and December, I will be singing a different tune, but for right now, I want rain and snow. We need our water levels to get higher, we need snow in the mountains and we need to wear out our windshield wipers. We need snow at Hurricane Ridge and on all the mountains, not just small rain showers. I really must be from the Olympic Peninsula, I am asking for more rain than the 78 inches we have.


What are your thoughts on this year’s rainfall?

Do you think it will have any lasting effects or is it part of the cycle?


Cape Flattery. Neah Bay

Cape Flattery. Neah Bay


Rain Facts about Forks, Washington

In July of 1958, the City of Forks received only had 8/10ths of an inch of rain.

The 2nd driest year on record is 1929, when Forks got a measly 77.07 inches of rain

The driest year? 1985 with 70.35 inches.

The wettest year in Forks is 1997, when Forks got 162.14 inches. That is 13 and half feet. In that same year 29.42 inches fell in March.

In Dec of 1979, Forks received 40.79 inches of rain. That is the average yearly total for Indianapolis, Indiana. 


The Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park

The Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park

Taft Creek, Hoh River Valley

Taft Creek, Hoh River Valley

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