Portland and L.A – What’s Different: The Rain

I was wondering about selling items this Saturday at a nearby outside flea market, but there is a chance of rain forecast and that means you cannot really tell if it will rain or not, at least here in the Portland, Oregon area.

About 12 years ago, as of this writing, I made the move from the Los Angeles are to the Portland area, mostly for the cooler weather, as well as for other reasons. I knew Portland was different from L.A., but, during these last 12 years here, I’ve come to actually experience the differences, and similarities, in detail.

Climate here is certainly different, though there are similarities here, too, the main one being that, like L.A., Portland is wetter during the winter than during the summer. And rain is different up here for sure. Portland, and the Pacific Northwest, is known for rain. I like it when it rains, and occasionally snows, so this is the ideal place for me.

Does it always rain every single day all day as many people think?

No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t necessarily rain a lot, just often.

The rainy season, while peaking in the winter months as it does in L.A., lasts much longer up here, sometimes running from September through June whereas in L.A., it usually doesn’t start in earnest until at least the second half of October, and often falls off by the end of March.

Another difference is that during the drier part of the year in Portland, you will have a lot of sunny warm days and you will see rain at times, even during July and August, though not nearly as often as during the other months of the year. In L.A., July and August (as well as May, June, September, oftentimes October, and sometimes even November!) are bone dry, with the occasional monsoonal sprinkles in some years.

But, it’s not only the length of the rainy season that’s different, it’s the rain itself.

Rain up here can range from drizzle to downpours to passing showers of varying intensity to days long steady rain. And it can vary even by the hour! I’ve seen clear mornings give way to rainy afternoons.

Now, in L.A., most often, once the sun comes out, the rain is over and you can put your rain hat away for the day. Not so up here in Portland or the Pacific Northwest. The sun may come out and it may look as if the storm will clear, then the clouds will either build up again and drop more rain or a new group of clouds will blow in and the rain begins again. I’ve experienced this many times when distributing fliers door to door, which is why I pay close attention to the weather forecasts, and, if there’s a chance of rain for that day, I make sure to bring my rain hat!

Then, the rain can “fall” in different ways! And it literally has different “personalities”!

I’ve seen stretches of steady moderate rain, but also drizzle. One drizzle was like a fine misty spray, strong, but the drops still very small and light at the same time.

Then, most often in fall and spring, there will be bands of clouds with sun breaks in between. The bands of clouds are sometimes really well-defined and will come over you with drenching downpours! And, if you are on a hill with a view in the right direction, you can literally see the rain and the bands of clouds dropping the rain, “marching” in procession! I’ve seen this, too.

Then, though still rare compared to the Midwest, the Portland area does see more thunderstorms than the L.A. area and thunderstorms can come at any time of year, though they’re more prevalent in late spring and summer, and often are accompanied by small hail.

And, if you like big spectacular clouds, you’ll see them more up here, too.

In the winter months, if it is nearly cold enough to snow, but not quite, the rain can come with a snow or hail mix and, when the rain hits your windshield, you may see ice in it, what some up here call “chunky rain”. Then, though rare, we also see what is called “sleet”, or freezing rain, which of course coats everything in ice. One winter, we had sleet that coated all the plants and when the wind blew, the leaves and longer grasses would bump each other and make a clinking sound, like wind chimes, something never seen or heard in the L.A. area.

So, to sum it up, it rains a lot up here, but not every day or always all day long, and the rain does have it’s different “personalities” up here. And I enjoy them all!

Enjoy the rain and keep dry, too!

And thanks for reading!  🙂

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