I have mused in the past about how much we Rock dwellers love to disagree with each other. Jet noise. Growth. Renaming the hospital. Bus fares. Beach access. Turning left at Broadway and Highway 20. The best place for breakfast or beer on the island. Name a subject and somebody will be happy to disagree with you. It gives us a reason to buy a friend a cup of coffee. But something’s happened in the past several months about which no sentient human on the Rock can disagree. This has been a wet, sloppy, muddy-boot winter. The disagreement then becomes just how wet it’s been. Worst rainy season ever? Not as bad as the winter of (fill in the blank)? Typical Whidbey winter? Couldn’t care less because we just got back from two months in Arizona?
Seattle, that behemoth across from us in America, is boasting of its wettest rainy season ever (and that’s one gigantic umbrella of a boast). From November through February, the Emerald City was bathed in more than 28 inches of rain. That compares to a more typical 15.5 inches the year before.
All this caused my brain cells to awaken from winter’s slumber. I began a search for reliable information about rainfall on the Rock. There is no shortage of data but, as with all numbers, it’s hard to know who to believe and what to trust.
But, after sifting and sorting, here’s what I believe is true about this winter’s rain in Coupeville: From November through February (what we laughingly call our “rainy season”), 14.71 inches of rain fell in Coupeville. That compares with 8.96 inches in the winter of 2014-15 and 7.9 inches in the winter of 2013-14. Therefore, dear friends, it has been inarguably much wetter this winter. We have endured six days where more than half an inch has fallen, including a whopping 1.09 inches on Saturday Nov. 14. By comparison, there were four days of more than half an inch in 2014-15 and just one in 2013-14.
To brag just a little about Central Whidbey’s vaunted protection from rain by the Olympic rain shadow, our cousins on South Whidbey had 22.73 inches of rain this winter and our Oak Harbor relatives had 15.31 inches. So we were wet, but they were wetter.
I hesitate to say that this winter’s rain has set a record here on the Rock. Somebody out there would surely arm-wrestle me over that. Until recently, weather gauges — even the good ones — were not always reliable. So I will politely avoid an argument over this being the wettest winter ever. It just feels like it.
Much of what we know precisely about rainfall in Coupeville these days (including the numbers I cited above) is thanks to David Broberg, who with his wife Becky bought the Blue Goose Inn Bed & Breakfast on Main Street three years ago.
A true weather geek, Broberg became interested in following the weather in Colorado, where they lived before moving here. Strapped to one of the historic chimneys at the Blue Goose is a solar-powered, digital weather station that automatically gathers information on rainfall, temperature, wind and humidity in Coupeville and transmits it via the Internet to WSU Extension and others. Broberg also uses the information in his own weather site, www.coupevilleweather.com, which he says attracts guests and helps travelers prepare for what it will be like when the get here.
Broberg’s data also is fed to the magnificent Weather Underground website, www.wunderground.com, where you can spend hours sorting weather data from hundreds of amateur weather geek stations all over the world.
How great it is to live on our Rock in the 21st Century and be able to disagree with friends about the weather and have real data to back up your argument.