Does it always rain in Seattle? It's a question we receive from travelers who have always wanted to see the top attractions in Seattle like the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and The Museum of Flight, but they associate the Emerald City with the wet stuff. Well, we've got some good news for those travelers...The short answer is no, it doesn't rain all the time here.

Seattle Skyline on a sunny day with Mount Rainier in the distance

Most of the measurable precipitation in Seattle comes in the form of drizzle and light rain with measurable amounts occurring on 150 days. The frequency is largely due to weather fronts having difficulty passing the Cascade Mountain range causing cloudy conditions for a few days, but on average there is only 37 inches of rain while 40 miles south in Olympia, there is more than 50 inches or rain received in 165 days! 

For comparison:

  • Houston gets 54" in 99 days
  • Atlanta gets 50" in 116
  • New York City gets nearly 50" in 120 
  • Chicago is real close with 38" on 125

The weather does change depending on your location. The Washington State Peninsula has a lot of variation. For example, it has temperate rainforest on the west (coast) side. There was a reason Forks was chosen as the setting of the Twilight Saga due to its high amount of rain and clouds. On the east side of the Olympic Mountains on the peninsula, it is much drier.

People in rain coats fishing off pier

You may have heard that real Seattleites don't use umbrellas when it rains. There is some truth to that. Many natives just always have a rain coat handy and don't need an umbrella. However any given day driving down the street while it's raining, you will spot many umbrellas. So keep a small umbrella in your bag and a plastic sack to place it when it is not in use to keep the rest of the items in your bag dry.

Seattle weather can often be unpredictable with fog and rain in the morning and sunshine and clear skies in the afternoon. Therefore, you should always wear layers so you can add or remove as the climate suggests. Bring a lightweight raincoat, comfortable walking shoes, jeans, long sleeve shirt or jacket and a t-shirt. You will be prepared for all weather in most situations. Seattle is a pretty casual city; after all, we did invent grunge here. So pack casual, comfortable clothes and be prepared for a drizzle every now and then. But it's unlikely you'll get caught in a downpour during your stay!