Don’t take it too personal that Mother Nature lets it rain a ton on us Northwesterners—there are scientific reasons why we get dumped on all the time.
We have a constant windy blast above us called the jet stream. Think of it as a gigantic train in the upper atmosphere that chugs a bunch of weather systems right through where we are. During December, the jet stream brings through a weather system phenomenon called “The Pineapple Express”—nicknamed as such because our weather comes from the waters by our pineapple-y friend, Hawai’i.
The Pineapple Express chugs its way through, bringing storm after storm from the waters surrounding Hawai’i, up to the Gulf of Alaska. This time of year, we get the least amount of light and the most amount of rain—6.4 inches of rainfall in the month of December alone and only 8 hours of daylight as opposed to the 15 hours of sunny-shine we get when school lets out.
Our positioning next to the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range does us in, too. The storm-train has a tough time chugging up those mountains and kind of stalls over us—traffic gets backed up so it just dumps out its cargo during the delay. The cool air condenses, making the clouds smaller and tighter with water, and easier for them to dump their water supply.
Scientifically, we were destined to get drenched. Mama Nature’s jet-stream train and the Cascade Mountain train-stop make sure of this—but it’s because of them we get the thirst-quenching weather that makes the Northwest lush and green. Most of the grass seed used in the FIFA Soccer World Cup came from Corvallis, Oregon. We have a plethora of salmon running through our waterways, and we’re pretty famous for our apples.
With every cloud there’s a silver lining.
Written by Jeremy Hess
Video by Daniel Ostapenko