SEATTLE -- With the Seattle Seahawks square in the national spotlight this year amid dreams of a Super Bowl season, those who have been watching the games here and around the nation have been treated to not just our dominating defense, our powerful offense and our ear-shattering 12th Man but also a solid reinforcement of Seattle's rainy reputation.
The thought really came to me after watching the weather debacle of this year's home opener against San Francisco that fateful Sunday night on national TV which featured soaking rains and an hour-long thunderstorm delay -- which came on the heels of a soaking rainstorm against those same 49ers during a Sunday night game late last season.
I'm sure many thought whoever had the bright idea to move the team and fans out of the comfy, climate-controlled confines of the Kingdome years ago and build an open air stadium for the heart of Seattle's stormy season must have been "a few yards short of a first down" in the brain department.
But should playing a game in Seattle automatically be linked to a drenching rain as Lambeau and Soldier Fields often mean playing in -15° wind chills?
Before these past few games, I didn't really remember too many rainy or cold games there, so I decided to go back and check the weather over every regular season home game that has been played at Seahawks Stadium/Qwest Field/CenturyLink Field since it opened in 2002.
The goal: To see just how many times it's rained on the 12th Man, how many times it's been chilly or hot, and how windy it's ever been. The answer was surprising to me: Despite playing in the heart of the worst weather on Seattle's meteorological calendar, Mother Nature has gone relatively easy on us.
Just don't tell that to the San Francisco 49ers, who seem to bring out the worst in Seattle weather.
The source of the data is from nearby Boeing Field, which is just 4 miles south of the stadium. I went and calculated the highest and lowest temperature felt, amount of rain that fell, and the strongest wind gusts between game times of 1-4 p.m. for day games and 5-8 p.m. for night games (which vary in start time between 5:30 and 6:00).
Seahawks games: Drier than Mariners games?!?
This might surprise anyone who has season tickets this year but a vast majority of Seahawks home games through the years have been dry. Of the 91 home games from the stadium opener in 2002 through the Tennessee game on Oct. 13, there has been measurable rain on just 18 of them -- or just under 20%. That averages out to about 4 out of every 5 home games dry. (Seven additional games had a trace of rain, meaning it sprinkled but didn't really get anyone wet.)
So how lucky have Seahawks fans been? Believe it or not -- and I couldn't believe this myself -- rainy days during Seahawks games are on par or even less frequent than Seattle Mariners' home games! (Stump your friends with that little tidbit!)
On average since the stadium opened in 1999, the Safeco Field roof is closed for 23% of the games during their season, according to team spokeswoman Rebecca Hale. The Mariners have a rather low threshold for closing the roof so a trace of rain might be enough to have counted as a closed roof day that wouldn't have counted in my wet Seahawks home game tally, but suffice to say, the ratio of wet to dry home games have ended up pretty close so far -- and the Mariners play during the dry season!
As for the times it has rained during a Seahawks game: The wettest game on record is a tie between the game against New England on Oct. 14, 2012 and... the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 22 this year. During both games, 0.19" of rain fell (remember this is just for the game's ~3-hour period, not the day's rainfall).
Next on the list? The Sunday night game last year against arch rival San Francisco on Dec. 23 at 0.18 inches when we beat them 42-13. No. 4? The infamous thunderstormy season opener against San Francisco on Sept. 15 at 0.17." (See a pattern here? Schedule San Francisco on a Sunday night and prepare to get soaked but see a blowout win by the 'Hawks.)
Top 10 Rainiest Seahawks Home Games:
1) 0.19" -- Sept. 22, 2013 against Jacksonville (win)
1) 0.19" -- Oct. 14, 2012 against New England (win)
3) 0.18" -- Dec. 23, 2012 against San Francisco (win)
4) 0.17" -- Sept. 15, 2013 against San Francisco (win)
5) 0.15" -- Dec. 14, 2006 against (guess who?) San Francisco (loss)
6) 0.13" -- Dec. 24, 2006 against San Diego (loss)
7) 0.11" -- Nov. 12, 2006 against St. Louis (win)
8) 0.10" -- Oct. 23, 2005 against Dallas (win)
9) 0.09" -- Nov. 13, 2005 against St. Louis (win)
10) 0.06" -- Nov. 6, 2006 against Oakland (win)
So that means two of the three home games this year -- and three of the last five home games have been the wettest games ever there, and three of the top 5 wettest games have been against the 49ers!
November 2006 was among the stormiest month on record, and that entire autumn was quite wet, so that was by far the worst year to be a season ticket holder (5 of 8 home games that season had rain). Take out the 2006 and 2013 seasons and it's only rained on 11 of 80 games (14%.)
I was surprised that the thunderstorm game against the 49ers wasn't the wettest overall but it does have the distinction of having quite the heavy burst of rain -- all 0.17" of that rain fell within one hour while most of the other dates on that list were spread out over 2-3 hours.
By the way, of those 18 games with measurable rain? The Seahawks won 14 of them.
Let it snow: The Seahawks are 2 and 0!
There have been only two times that it has snowed during a Seahawks game and they've won both of them.
The first was the infamous Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 27, 2006. (No, not that infamous "Golden Tate mircale catch" Monday night Packers game.) An arctic front passed through during the game and temperatures plummeted from a game time start temperature of 36 degrees to 30 degrees by the time the game ended (temperatures would continue to drop into the 20s). It caused a flash-freeze on the freeways literally stranding thousands of drivers on the roads. Some fans who drove in from Oregon said it took over 10 hours to get back to Portland.
The other snow game came during our big 2-week arctic outbreak in Dec. 2008 against the New York Jets. That game on Dec. 21 was the coldest game since the Seahawks have played outdoors in SoDo, dropping to 29 degrees near the end with a wind chill of 17.7°.
This ain't Lambeau Field
Overall for temperatures, Seahawks fans have benefited form our relatively mild marine climate. Only four day games and four night games out of 91 total have been played with temperatures in the 30s and that aforementioned Jets game was the only game to reach the 20s.
Top 5 Coldest Day Seahawks Games (average temperature over 3-hour period):
1) 30.5° -- Dec. 21, 2008 against New York Jets (Lowest temp: 29°. Wind Chill: 17.7°.)
2) 34.0° -- Dec. 6, 2009 against San Francisco (Wind Chill: 24.6°)
3) 36.5° -- Dec. 9, 2007 against Arizona (Wind Chill: 36°)
4) 38.0° -- Dec. 11, 2005 against San Francisco (Wind Chill: 30.4°)
5) 41.5° -- Dec. 30, 2012 against St. Louis
Top 5 Coldest Night Seahawks Games (average temperature over 3-hour period)
1) 33.0° -- Nov. 27, 2006 against Green Bay (Wind Chill 21.9°)
1) 33.0° -- Dec. 12, 2011 against St. Louis (Wind Chill 30.0°)
3) 33.5° -- Jan. 2, 2010 against St. Louis (Wind Chill: 23.4°)
4) 38.5° -- Dec. 1, 2011 against Philadelphia
5) 42.5° -- Dec. 23, 2012 against San Francisco
It's not San Diego either...
On the other hand, it hasn't been all that hot at Seahawks games either, even though September can still give us a late blast of summer. Only one game has ever reached 80 degrees -- a Sept. 13, 2009 tussle with St. Louis -- and only two others have had temperatures at or above 70 through the entire game. (Would it surprise you to know San Francisco was one of the games?) Overall, just 8 games out of 91 -- not even 10 percent! -- have had a temperature reach 70 at some point during the contest.
Top 5 Warmest Seahawks Games (average temperature over 3-hour period):
1) 78.0° -- Sept. 13, 2009 against St. Louis (80° peak temp)
2) 73.5° -- Sept. 9, 2007 against Tampa Bay (77° peak temp)
3) 72.0° -- Sept. 14, 2008 against San Francisco (74° peak temp)
4) 71.0° -- Sept. 24, 2006 against New York Giants (74° peak temp)
4) 71.0° -- Sept. 16, 2012 against Dallas (74° peak temp)
Of the 91 home games:
Games played in the 80s: 1 (1.0%)
Games played in the 70s: 7 (7.7%)
Games played in the 60s: 24 (26.3%)
Games played in the 50s: 29 (31.9%)
Games played in the 40s: 22 (24.2%)
Games played in the 30s: 8 (8.8%)
Hang on to your hats!
While it doesn't rain all that often, it can get windy. The peak wind gust ever recorded during a game was 44 mph on Dec. 14, 2006 and I'll give you three guesses as to the opponent (although if you've been paying attention, the answer's been already given): San Francisco. That Thursday Night game was during the initial hours of the great Hanukah Eve Windstorm that also featured a weather delay. Second windiest day was 33 mph on Oct. 12, 2003 against... good grief, San Francisco?
In all, 18 games of 91 have had peak gusts of 20 mph or greater with an average overall peak wind speed of 11 mph.
Do you need to squeeze sunglasses into your small, clear, stadium-approved bags?
Now here is where the data really did match what we would expect for Seattle: A clear lack of sunshine. Of the 91 home games, 36 were played under overcast skies (40%) and 24 more were under mostly cloudy skies, meaning 70 percent of our home games didn't feature much, if any sunshine. Just 16 games were considered totally sunny (18%) -- seven of those in September games -- while the rest were partly cloudy.
What's your deal, San Francisco, with the bad weather?
I didn't really realize it until typing all this out how crummy many of the games against the 49ers have been. Granted, being a division rival, the Seahawks play them every year so there have been 12 home games against the 49ers -- more than any other opponent right now (until St. Louis and Arizona play their 12th game in Seattle later this year.)
Of those 12, it's poured on three of them, including one that had an hour-long thunderstorm delay and another during what stands as the greatest Puget Sound wind storm of the 21st Century thus far. A fourth game was dry but had 33 mph winds. A fifth and sixth game had temperatures stuck in the 30s all game long. It wasn't always like that though -- six games had sunny or partly cloudy skies (including one of the 30s game). But before you think it's just law of averages, other division mates Arizona and St. Louis don't have nearly the weather drama in their history that the 49ers have brought. Then again, Seattle is 8-4 against San Francisco through this year at home since joining the NFC West so it certainly hasn't been an issue.
So, what to really expect, America, when watching a Seahawks game in Seattle?
Most times you'll find a cloudy but dry day, a bit breezy, with temperatures in the 50s or 60s.
Unless it's against the 49ers...
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