Summer weather not that unusual

SEATTLE – Despite all the grumbling about a lack of summer weather in Western Washington this year, the National Weather Service says there’s nothing all that unusual about the summer of 2007.

According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature this July was 67.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the same or slightly above the average monthly temperature for July since 2003.

And while there were 24 “cloudy” or “partly cloudy” days during July, that number is not significantly above average either, says National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis D’Amico.

There were 20 and 22 cloudy and partly cloudy days in July 2004 and 2006, respectively. Averages for this August won’t be available for another two weeks.

D’Amico acknowledges that the averages can be a little deceptive.

For example, the average temperature this July was skewed by the warm weather in the beginning of the month, which included a heat wave on July 10 and 11, when temperatures reached 98 degrees. Since July 17, the temperature hasn’t been above 80. The average rainfall for July is less than 1 inch, but from July 17 to the end of the month Seattle had nearly 1 1/2 inches.

The cloudy afternoons also are raising average daily temperatures because cloud cover keeps the nights warmer, D’Amico says. A month of cloudy, cool afternoons might be warmer on average than a month of sunny, clear afternoons.

Average or not, the cloudy summer weather is hurting some businesses that depend on sunshine as a marketing tool.

Clarke Gray, the owner of Greenlake Boat Rental, says the recent gray afternoons have affected his business. On an average sunny weekday, Gray rents more than 130 boats and rafts. On a cloudy day, that number drops to around 50.

“If we had weather like it was last year, we’d be renting a lot more,” he says.

Many of the sunny days over the Puget Sound this summer have not graced weekend activities. There hasn’t been an entire weekend of sustained sunshine for a month.

“The sunny days haven’t lined up too well. If you’ve planned to go camping in the mountains on a Saturday, you’re really feeling it,” D’Amico says.

More clouds and possible rain are expected for next weekend, but D’Amico says the extended forecast calls for sunshine.

According to the National Weather Service’s three-month forecast, “late August, September and October have a greater-than-equal chance for above-normal temperature.”

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