So Far, This October Has Been the Driest in Washington Since the 1940s


We're only 10 days in, but so far October is proving to be the driest since the 1940s, according to the National Weather Service. No measurable precipitation has fallen in the Puget Sound region as of Monday.

Along with that deficit of rain, daily high-temperature records have been falling across the region, according to Kayla Mazurkiewicz, a National Weather Service forecaster. On Friday, Seattle hit 77 degrees.

"The six-day outlook, 10-day outlook seems to have more above temperatures, even the eight to 14-day outlook," Mazurkiewicz said.

Persistent high pressure over the region has been keeping storm systems at bay for at least a month.

"It just keeps rebuilding over the area," said Weather Service meteorologist Carly Kovacik.

Air Quality

The absence of rain has prolonged the wildfire season. The Bolt Creek Fire has been burning just north of the Stevens Pass Highway (U.S. 2) in the Cascades for a month. It's consumed over 13,000 acres and is only 36 percent contained.

The Bolt and two other fires in the Cascades are contributing to smoky skies in Western Washington. On Tuesday, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency labeled Pierce County air as moderately unhealthy, particularly for people sensitive to air quality.

It's not going to get better anytime soon.

"More high pressure and dry weather this week means more smoke impacts expected," the agency advised.


Most of Western Washington is now in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. All of the state falls into the "abnormally dry" category. The impacts are expected to be short-term.

Farther south, parts of Oregon and California are experiencing extreme and exceptional drought levels — the highest categories the Drought Monitor assigns. Agricultural and hydrological impacts to those states could be long lasting.

While the rain forecast is grim in the short term, the Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-average precipitation in Washington by the end of 2022.


While the prolonged summer has kept heaters in the "off" position, it's taking a toll on area gardens.

"What's suffering right now are shallow-rooted rhododendrons and azaleas and also hydrangeas," said gardening expert and columnist Marianne Binetti. The lack of water will reduce blossoms in spring, she said.

Fall is when many plants go dormant. Lawns will be fine without supplemental water.

"When the rains come back, lawns will green up," she said.

Now is good time to peruse nursery sales and overstock, she said.

"We can plant later this fall because the soil is still warm," she said.

Just don't forget to water your new additions.