SEATTLE — The unusually damp, dark weather this month is testing even the most die-hard Northwest native accustomed to rain and clouds.
The first day of summer in Washington, Oregon and Idaho opened with a cloudy forecast, a chance of showers and weather colder than average for this time of month.
Seattleites have gone the longest stretch this year without a 75-degree day — temperatures have yet to hit that mark at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, making it an all-time record, said Nick Bond, the Washington state climatologist.
“My tomatoes aren’t very happy. My lawn is doing great, but so are the slugs,” said Bond, a University of Washington research meteorologist.
In Portland, Ore., residents are experiencing the wettest June, with the most rainfall recorded at Portland International Airport since 1940, said meteorologist Bill Schneider with the National Weather Service there.
“Oregon and Washington have had a similar weather pattern,” Schneider said. “It’s been colder and much wetter than normal, because of a persistent pattern of low pressure systems.”
It’s been no different in southwestern Idaho, where the region’s average temperature since April 1 has been nearly three degrees colder than the 40-year average, said Valerie Mills, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boise. It’s also wetter than usual, she said.
Forecasters say low temperatures this week will be mostly in the 50s with highs reaching the low 70s in Western Washington and 80s in Eastern Washington.
“Summer is not going to come,” said a despondent Ayelet Winer, while on a lunch break in downtown Seattle.
In Spokane, Wash., heavy rains have been falling since Sunday. Forecasters expect a break in the storms starting on Tuesday. About noon Monday, the temperature at Spokane International Airport was a cool 51 degrees, while Bowerman Airport in Hoquiam was 57 degrees.
In Kittitas County, the weather has put hay growers on edge, and workers hurried last week to cover newly baled grass.
“Usually, in a regular season, we’d be cutting right now and beginning to bale,” hay grower Bob Haberman told the Ellensburg Daily Record last week. “The cool weather and rain has put everything behind by at least 10 days.”
In the Portland, Ore., area, the weather has been so dismal that people are calling the month “June-u-ary.”
Dina Gross, manager of the Cedar Mill farmer’s market outside Portland, said attendance on rainy days is down by about one-third compared to last year.
Vendors “are dealing with it,” Gross said. “They just tough it out.”
At the Astro Services Station in The Dalles, Ore., attendant Vincent Manzella said the weather has been brutal. “That cold wind just beats us to death every day,” he said. “We’re halfway through June and it’s freezing.”
Cold, damp conditions in the past two months have slowed retail sales at Cloverdale Nursery in Boise, Idaho, during a time when homeowners typically tackle do-it-yourself landscaping projects, manager James Kidd said. He blamed the weather and the economy for a drop in retail sales.
“This is the coolest spring, early summer I can remember,” he said.
Along Seattle’s waterfront Monday, Manuel Holvoet, a tourist from Antwerp, Belgium, said he has yet to encounter sunshine during his visits to this city.
“You don’t come to Seattle, for the weather,” he said.
Nearby, Cassie Nelson and her family from Cour d’Alene, Idaho, were bundled in fleece jackets while dining outside at a waterfont eatery. She said they were tired of the chilly weather, both in Idaho and Seattle.
Melaku Teseema, who lives in north Seattle, shrugged off the whining about weather.
“I can’t say it’s bad, I can’t say it’s good,” he said, while flagging cars into a parking lot at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. “I can’t say nothing really. I don’t judge Nature.”
Bond, the Washington state climatologist, said there’s really not much to explain why this June has been so cool and gray. You can’t blame El Nino, he said, “we’ve just been dealt a pretty bad hand.”
The extra rain and delayed snowpack melt, however, have been good for the Northwest region’s water supply and hydropower generation, Bond said.
There’s no reason to despair, he said, “it’s a new deal of the cards every few weeks.”