The Truth About Seattle's Rain

"Does it always rain in Seattle?" is 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. Many people planning a trip to the Emerald City associate it 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 in Seattle!

Girls with Colorful Umbrellas on a walk


Facts vs Myths about Rain in Seattle

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. On average, Seattle only gets 37 inches of rain over 165 days while 40 miles south in Olympia, there is more than 50 inches of rain received in the same span! 

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.

Visit Seattle to See the Best Rainbows

One bonus the Seattle area weather is how often rainbows appear on a moment's notice. Take a look at these beautiful, iridescent arcs of color captured by locals and visitors to Seattle.

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, on 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!


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Seattle Rain FAQs

Q: How often does it rain in Seattle?

A: On average it rains about 150 days a year in Seattle, but the amount of rain isn't much.


Q: How much rainfall does Seattle get each year?

A: On average, Seattle gets about 37 inches of rain each year.


Q: What percentage of time does it rain in Seattle?

A: According to the KOMO News Weatherman, it actually only rains 9.4% of the time in Seattle, not 94%!


Q: Is Seattle the rainiest city in America?

A: No, not by a long shot. New Orleans gets 62 inches of rain per year on average, and it rains in Rochester, New York 167 days per year.