[Tweeters] Our Funny Climate

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sun Mar 20 09:02:18 PDT 2016

Want to visit a funny climate? Try Port Townsend WA: in a region of funny weather, PT is a funnier spot than most.
By funny I mean unusual, but if you wanna laugh in the rain and the gray, or whatever, feel free.
By "our" climate I mean our wet side lowlands - west coast maritime country. On a world climate map the area might be referred to as a "modified Mediterranean Climate" - Mediterranean? Really? Well, why not. You see a Mediterranean climate is defined by having cool wet winters , and hot dry summers, think Greece, coastal California, etc. Around here we got the "modified" version. Wetter and cooler.
But despite the grey skies, at some point around here it just stops raining for the Summer - for all practical purposes, like growing plants, the ground just dries out. In July or August, just notice all the un-irrigated lawns around here turning that toasted brown color. Seattle, Vancouver (both), Port Townsend, etc. - brown summer lawns. A good climate indicator. Then visit broad swaths of what I call "The Great Humid East" in the Summer - try Wisconsin, southern Ontario, Florida, like I have - all those places get their rain in the Summer - green golf courses, and lawns. Humid.
Broad areas of our landmasses are covered by such humid thunderstorm rain climates, or vast areas of grassland, or outright desert, or tundra. Area's of Mediterranean climate are scarce - "modified" Mediterranean even scarcer - kind of unusual, kind of funny.
This post was somewhat inspired this "fall", in late October here in Port Townsend. First was a visit to nearby Cape George, to visit a garden job site. The place has a wonderful unfettered view of "Rhinoville" - Protection Island - which is largely covered with grass - all toasted Summer tan. Regular visits here in PT to Ford Worden also has great view of the tall, grassy, Ebey bluffs across the Sound on Whidbey Island - also browned out.
But then that climate thing happened, and the fall rains began (even here in the rain shadow) and the islands turned green! It didn't take long. Kinda cool to watch. Winter green. Technically (according to the Astronomy Dept), it is now Spring green, as of today.
But still - Mediterranean? Hey, ask a visiting plant - lot of gardening plants from Mediterranean climes like it here - plants from coastal California, Chile, and the actual Med. I weeded this Winter around several Mediterranean plants (good for drought tolerance) and watched them expand with the rains. One, an Acanthus, with big showy leaves, is that plant stylized on the tops of ancient Greek and Roman columns - how Mediterranean is that.
Well, the plant's are voting Mediterranean, especially here in PT. Some climate nerds, or geeks if you prefer, call this an Oceanic climate, but whatever , it's mild. Nice in Winter - compare Christmas bird counts between Milwaukee and Seattle. We got the Winter bird Riviera - just sayin'.
Jeff GibsonClub Med, WA

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