It’s June in Seattle, and things are getting a little desperate. We only had six hours over 70 degrees from the start of the year through May. We received over an inch of rain in the first five days of the month. Only the bravest, numbest, dyed-in-the-wool PNWers have dared to break out their shorts and Tevas.
I’ll beg if I have to: Are you there, God? It’s us, Seattle. Please—don’t let this be Juneuary.
Seattle's numbers of hours at or above 70°F through May 29th over the past few years:—NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) May 30, 2022
and, (drum roll), 2022: 5#wawx
Seattle loves naming our weather disappointments. There’s False Spring, when a few sunny patches in March or April fool us into believing that better days are coming. There’s the Big Dark, when overcast skies, chilly weather, and early sunsets leave the lights off from October till March. Extreme events get their own monikers, like Heat Dome and Snowpocalypse.
And, of course, there’s Juneuary: “Ignore the blooming trees outside,” says Seattle Weather Blog founder Justin Shaw, and “it’s going to look just like it did in January,” with the same gray skies and misty rains, just ticked up a few degrees. Sound objectively crappy? Last year, Shaw polled his followers and found that nearly 60 percent "love" Juneuary. But this year, "it's like it's been winter for six months," Shaw says. "I think it blows."
Juneuary: Love it or hate it, Seattle?—Seattle Weather Blog (@KSeattleWeather) June 6, 2021
We’re not the only locale with a name for the phenomenon. In California, the marine layer effect causes June Gloom (which precedes No-Sky July and Fogust). British Columbians use the term “Juneuary” even more than we do, per Google trends; CTV News Vancouver Island called it “a favourite around here." The even less spell check– friendly “Junuary” gets aired frequently with our Oregonian neighbors, though that spelling was apparently coined by some intrepid Northern California copywriters.
Complications, Californians, and Canadians aside, we’re claiming Juneuary as our own. The first online use of the term used to describe the Pacific Northwest’s particular brand of cold, cloudy June is a 2007 tweet from a user called @freshelectrons: “June-uary in Seattle.” That day, the high temp was a gloom-inducing 62 degrees. Less than a month later, local @jimray tweeted that “Our long, regional nightmare of Juneuary is finally over” (it hit 79 that day) and “I stole ‘Juneuary’” from someone named Shelley. Until we find Shelley, Juneuary’s etymological origin remains a mystery.
We can hone in on its meteorological origin, though. Shaw blames La Niña, a weather system “generally notorious” for cold, wet springs. Low-pressure systems bring clouds and rain; usually, they’ll “hang out in our neck of the woods for a couple of days,” then make way for warmer, drier weather. This year’s particularly shitty spring was brought to you by a low-pressure system hovering, awkwardly and eternally, right over our heads. Will it (please, please) go away in time for us to enjoy our 9pm sunsets without the assistance of a fleece jacket?
Though we might get a few 70-degree days here and there, “there's no week of glorious sunny weather ahead,” Shaw says. But there’s one very Seattle silver lining: “Even a cold day at the end of June is going to be warmer than a cold day at the end of May, I guess,” Shaw says. “So, yeah. That's not too optimistic. But that's about as good as I can do.”