UrbaNERD: New York City is Way Rainier Than Seattle

Print More

Rain in New York City: Another thing that makes us better than Portland.

Christpher Michel

Rain in New York City: Another thing that makes us better than Portland.

If it’s any consolation for today’s umbrella traffic jams and soaked pant-bottoms, New Yorkers can take heart in their city being rainier than most. While folks in the Pacific Northwest often brag about the wetness of their cities, New York—which averaged just under 50 inches a year in the 1981-2010 period tracked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—easily bests Seattle (37.7 inches per year) and Portland (36 inches per year). New York ranks 42nd overall in NOAA’s statistics on moisture in 271 cities:

NOAA also tracks rainfall in U.S. territories and possessions, but those are largely tropical, so they’ve an unfair advantage and UrbaNERD has omitted them from this list.

New York has the distinction of being the second rainiest of the nation’s 10 largest cities: Houston gets a little more.

The relative dampness of New York is not just an idle bragging point to be used when Northwesterners start boasting about their roses, coffee, environmental consciousness or music scene or begin complaining about how the early NFL games start in the middle of the morning out there. Our rainfall is also a significant factor in policy discussions about combined sewer overflows, drainage issues in southeast Queens, the resilience of the transit system, emergency management and more.

What’s more, all that rain makes for many a test of New Yorker’s umbrella etiquette, which is often wanting.

Follow City Limits’ other investigations. Get our free, weekly newsletter.