Why not use umbrellas? Because when it rains here, it doesn’t usually pour — but the wind blows. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Why not use umbrellas? Because when it rains here, it doesn’t usually pour — but the wind blows. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

How newcomers can fit in here. Pro tip: Don’t use umbrellas

If you’re new to Snohomish County, you might want to avoid cringe-y faux pas like calling I-5 “The 5.”

  • Sunday, September 19, 2021 7:54am
  • Life

By Marion Morford / Tacoma Daily Index

According to a recent study by HireAHelper, the population of Washington, from 2015-2020, grew by a bit over 526,300, bringing our state population to a little more than 7,693,000.

That’s an increase of more than half of the population of Snohomish County — in one five-year span.

And no, they didn’t all move into your neighborhood.

But if you are, ahem, one of those people, here are a few tips so you don’t make it so obvious that you just got here.

It’s not ‘rain’

First, in spite of our near-mythic relationship to rain, do not carry or use an umbrella.

Umbrellas are great for rain that falls straight down — which ours almost never does.

Our rain is usually accompanied by wind, which makes umbrellas worthless — if not a hazard.

Get a good rain jacket with a hood, and blend in with the rest of us.

If you have experienced real rain, by the way, like in the Midwest or Gulf states, you know that we almost never get actual rain here. We get drizzle, mist and sprinkles.

For us, half an inch of rain in 24 hours is a lot.

If you are new here, you will notice than many people wear cotton sweatshirts and other water-absorbing clothing, no matter what the weather.

One downpour would make that attire a movable sponge. We don’t care.

A few drops won’t make much difference.

Oddly enough, my wife insists on keeping an umbrella (or two, or five) in the car “in case we need it.”

Whenever we do “need” one, they somehow disappear until the next sunny day.

Snow scares us

Yes, it’s true that no one here knows how to drive in the snow.

And even if you moved here from the Midwest, you don’t either.

The snow here is far wetter than most places.

And we have hills.

And yes, if we get half an inch of snow, we close our schools. And freeways. And almost everything else.

On those rare occasions when we get measurable snow (about every other year), it generally lasts a few days and then melts away.

You know those places where it snows and doesn’t melt for months? That’s not us.

And you know those all-wheel drive trucks designed for snow? You see those in the ditches on our few snow days.

Driving on freeways

You know that north/south freeway that goes the whole span of the state?

We call it I-5.

In California they call it “The 5”. Don’t.

Most drivers go just a shade over the speed limit. No more than five.

And not definitely not lower.

And when it comes to vehicles, parked or in motion, almost anywhere in the state, but especially on the western side of the Cascades, an average of 8 out of 10 cars will be Asian car brands. Especially Toyota or Subaru.

Geography quiz

Many of our place names are of Native American origin and may be a bit tricky to pronounce.

I recommend watching local weather reports to learn how to say local names like Puyallup, Sequim, Mukilteo and Stillaguamish.

Some place names are easy to pronounce, but still might feel a bit awkward at first.

And yes, I mean places like Humptulips, Ilwaco and Nooksack. Or Semiahmoo.

And many of our counties have unexpected and/or challenging names.

Just a few of these are Asotin, Clallam, Klickitat, Skamania and Skagit. And Pend Oreille.

And it’s not “The Puget Sound.”

It’s just Puget Sound.

And “The Mountain”…..

It’s a long story.

On maps it’s Mount Rainier, but most of us just call it “The Mountain.”

Some day we will find a name worthy of it.

Dress in layers

The vast majority of people here, most of the time, dress for comfort.

Fashion statements are great.

Most of them just don’t last very long in our unpredictable, often blustery weather.

Layers are the sure sign of a local.

Wind, rain, sun; we can run through the four seasons in a few minutes.

If you are going to be out all day, it’s best to dress for almost every kind of weather.

You are likely to run into it.

There’s a reason flannel shirts are (still) associated with the Pacific Northwest.

The reigning principle is, keep it simple, and prepare for anything.

What to drink

We like our beer and coffee.

Yes, Starbucks started here. But so did a bunch of other great (many would argue, far better) coffee places.

And when it comes to beer, there are more than 170 craft breweries currently in operation throughout the state, and a whole host of beer-centered events from Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest to the Upper Left Beerfest in Everett.

And FYI, more than 75% of the hops grown in the USA come from this state — mostly the Yakima Valley.

Which Vancouver?

If someone suggests a weekend in Vancouver, be sure to specify which one.

One was established first. The other involves crossing an international border.

Talk to us

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