I can’t tell you how many times in my career I’ve been asked by a transplant, “What do you do throughout all the rainy winters in Seattle?”
And the little known secret here is, we don’t. Because it doesn’t rain nearly as much as people think it does or that gets depicted in tv and movies, and when it does rain it’s generally a light mist that doesn’t get you soaked the way rainstorms in other parts of the country do. It does still rain a little, though, so our number one survival tip is to make sure you have appropriate outerwear to handle a Puget Sound winter – this includes fleece or warm underlayers with a waterproof shell, boots, and a pair of rain pants on hand. The key here is to layer up so that you’re prepared for anything. You’ll find that when you have appropriate clothing to match the weather, you’ll get outside more and you won’t let the weather coop you up. And you’ll find that some of our most beautiful locations are even more beautiful in the winter!
The rain is easy to handle, but what gets most newcomers down for the first year or two is a case of the grays. From late fall to early spring, the majority of the days are gray. We get a lot of cloud coverage, very little sun, and for friends moving from warmer locations it can be a little, well, soul-crushing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing – a type of depression that comes with the gray months and affects a lot of Seattle residents. We’re not doctors so we won’t go into the details, studies and theories, but a lot of Seattle residents will use light therapy, or SAD lamps, to get them through (see some top SAD lamps here) In addition, most locals will tell you that a good multivitamin with plenty of vitamin D could also play a part in helping their mood over winter.
Another survival tool many of us resort to in the winter months is simply escaping. A lot of Seattle residents choose this time – sometime usually in January or February – to take a sunny vacation, with Hawaii and Mexico being some of the more common destinations. A week away in the sunshine right in the middle of the gray season is a perfect antidote to a strong case of the grays.
I’ve personally found that the number one way to beat the grays is to just get out. Rely on friends, family, coworkers or whoever you have to meet for drinks, meals, coffee or simply enjoy a stroll. Soon enough, the sun will be back and you’ll experience the best summer weather in the United States.