Some south enders like to joke that they’re in the Bainbridge Bahamas, with more sun and less rain than the north end. Are they right?
Nope. According to City of Bainbridge Island Water Resources Engineer Melva Hill, it rains more on the south part of the Island, averaging about 38 inches a year versus 33-34 inches on the north end. Why? The northern part of Bainbridge experiences some of the rain shadow effect that makes places such as Sequim sunnier and drier.
How Much Rain We Got During Last Week’s Storm
I asked Hill how much precipitation we got last week during the heavy rain on August 29. Hill told me that 1.08 inches of rain fell on Bainbridge during the 24-hour period of the 29th. It was a lot of rain but nowhere near a record breaker. The striking thing about it was that about two-thirds of it fell in just one wild hour. Between 5:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m., at rush hour, 0.68 inch fell. Hill said she was in her car at the time driving from Bainbridge through Suquamish, and she estimated there were some 3 to 4 inches of water on the roadway. “I had my windshield wipers on full speed and still couldn’t see,” Hill said.
Most Rain in a Day
Hill didn’t have data about record precipitation in an hour interval to compare to that one, but she was able to tell me that the recorded heaviest rainfall for Bainbridge during a 24-hour period was 4.12 inches. That’s a lot of rain any way you look at it, especially when you compare it to the 1.08 inches on our rainy day last week. The deluge was in January of 1997 and led to the tragic mudslide that killed a Bainbridge Island family on Rolling Bay Walk.
Bainbridge Weather Station
Four years ago Bainbridge put an integrated weather station on top of the Police Department building. The station records real-time temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed and direction. The City receives constant weather data from the station in 5-minute intervals. Before the weather station was installed, the Woodward School weather station provided most of the Island’s weather data, which was problematic because the station is not monitored in the summer months. (The Bloedel Reserve also collects some weather data.)
Heavy Rainfall Event Locations
Hill explained that when precipitation levels pass a specific threshold as a “qualifying rain event” City crews are alerted to monitor and/or respond to problems in high-risk areas of the Island, such as roadways, ponds, and bluffs, that are more prone to flooding and landslides. During business hours on weekdays that threshold is 1 or more inches of rain. During off hours, it is 2 or more inches. Here is a list of the Heavy Rainfall Event Locations on Bainbridge Island.
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Featured photo by Sarah Lane shows flooding at Helpline House.