This week’s weather: Does it always rain on Fourth of July?

Jul 1, 2024, 5:53 AM

fourth of july...

The American flag flying during a downpour. (Photo: Steven King, Getty Images)

(Photo: Steven King, Getty Images)

Some locals say it always rains on the Fourth of July, but does it? Is that a myth? Let’s take a look at some Puget Sound area weather records for Independence Day so far this century.

Going back through 2001, it has rained only twice at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), five times at Paine Field in Everett and twice in Olympia. The heaviest amount fell at Paine Field in 2002 with nearly two-tenths of an inch of rain. The last measurable rainfall fell in 2016, again at Paine Field with only five-hundredths of an inch of rain.

Since 2001 on the 4th, high temperatures at SEA have ranged from a cool 65 degrees in 2002 to a hot 92 degrees in 2015. Last year, the high temperature was 88 degrees under full sunshine. Since the start of the century, the average Independence Day high temperature has been 75.6 degrees.

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At Olympia, the average high temperature has been 76 degrees, including a spread of 63 degrees in 2002 to 93 degrees in 2015. Last year, the high temperature on Independence Day was a toasty 89 degrees. Paine Field reached 83 degrees last year on July 4.

This week’s forecast

During early July, it is quite common to have a weather pattern of morning clouds and afternoon sunshine, and that is the case for Monday through Wednesday. High temperatures will be quite seasonal, ranging from the upper 60s to mid-70s across much of Western Washington.

The forecast for this year’s North Sound Independence Day looks to be one of sunshine and a warm day. Highs across the region will range from the upper 60s near the shorelines to 80 degrees or better away from the waterways with plenty of sunshine.

As higher pressure continues to build over the Pacific Northwest as the week progresses, by Friday high temperatures are expected to rise into the 80s in many locations. For some, these temperatures will heighten heat health-related concerns.

Holiday week travel

Travel for this week is already underway with some taking the whole week off. Travel is expected to peak Wednesday. With many leaving town all week, expect this Sunday to also be busy with travelers returning.

Across the nation, according to AAA’s travel forecast, nearly 71 million Americans are anticipated to travel more than 50 miles for the Independence Day holiday week, likely a new record. More than 60 million people will drive and nearly six million will fly.

Locally on the road, highways like I-90, I-5 and US 2 will be busiest each day through this weekend from late each morning until around 7 p.m.

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If you are using the ferry system, keep in mind that Washington State Ferries (WSF) continues to suffer fewer available vessels and occasional staffing shortages. Ferry authorities note that the busiest sailings for vehicles will likely be westbound (or onto an island) before the holiday, and eastbound (or off island) following the holiday.

Be sure to check the ferry schedule on their website or app for the latest available information, and plan for delays in ferry terminal waits. To reduce waiting, riders may consider taking an early morning or late-night sailing or by using transit to walk or bike onto the ferry if possible.

Gas prices

At the gas pump, prices are expected to be about five cents lower than last year’s Independence Day holiday period, and about a buck and a half lower than in 2022. According to AAA Travel, average prices across the state are around $4.31. Yet in Skagit County and Northeast Washington, prices are under $4 a gallon for regular gas.

Fireworks and dry, warm conditions

This year has been drier than normal. Many Western Washington locations are two to four inches below average for the year.

Grasses and shrubs are dry, and fireworks can easily ignite them. If using fireworks, be sure to have plenty of water on hand to knock down any fires that may start.

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The best choice to enjoy fireworks is to visit one of many public fireworks displays throughout the region. As the country celebrates its 248th birthday, have a safe — and sane — Fourth of July holiday with family, friends and neighbors.

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X.

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This week’s weather: Does it always rain on Fourth of July?