Curious Cbus: Who Gets More Rain, Columbus Or Seattle?

May 21, 2019

While we are well-warned about April showers, rain is persisting well into May, with another soggy weekend in the forecast for Central Ohio.

The drab weather prompted listener Joe Meyer to ask WOSU's Curious Cbus project: "Which city has had more rain this year, Columbus or Seattle?" (Just to empahsize his disappointment, he added a frowny face at the end.)

Sorry Joe, but Columbus wins "by a wide margin," according to NBC4 meteorologist Ben Gelber.

"We have had just over 20 inches of rain and melted snow, which is a lot for us, through the 20th of May," he says. "That's about 6 inches above normal."

As for the city with the rainiest reputation?

"Seattle so far this year has had just under 14 inches of precipitation," Gelber says. "So it's no contest right now."

Seattle technically has more rainy days than Columbus, but Gelber says the difference is in volume. We have thunderstorms here.

"It's a potential to get 1-, 2-, 3-inch rainfall days, compared to Seattle that might have a bunch of 1/10, 2/10 of an inch of rain," he says.

Pedestrians huddle under rain hoods and umbrellas as they pass a sign at the Pike Place Market during a steady rain Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Seattle. Columbus has had more rain this year than both Seattle and London.
Credit Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Meyer also asked about how Columbus stacked up to London, England, another notoriously dreary city. (Not to be confused with London, Ohio, just southwest of Columbus.)

"Nothing like us," Gelber says. "Whatever they've had is probably at most half of what we've had since the start of the year."

Seattle and London are both northern cities on a western coast, giving them pretty similar climates. Location matters, Gelber says.

"You're going to get a lot of grey, dull days, and a lot of days with light amounts of rain in Seattle or London, whereas we rely more on thunderstorms and more typical storms rolling out of the Midwest and tracking up toward the Great Lakes or Atlantic coast," Gelber says.

Central Ohio's rainy period may not be letting up any time soon. Last year was the wettest year on record for the city.

"The numbers are pretty exceptional," Gelber says. "We're several inches wetter on average than we were in the mid-20th century. And the rainfall records have been tumbling more often than at any time at least since the start of the 20th century."

Do you have questions about the climate or environment around Columbus? Ask us below and we may investigate as part of our Curious Cbus series.