A Few Differences Between Washington and Texas

When I first moved from Seattle to Texas, back when the ‘90s first arrived, it was a startling change for me.  When I moved back to Seattle the changes weren’t quite as pronounced (I knew then how very different two states could be) but they were still noticeable.   Whenever I say Washington here, I mean Western Washington.  Eastern Washington is like an entirely different state, in more ways than one.  If you’re making a change from Texas to Washington, or vice versa, get ready for a few differences.

Happy Lights

On our return to Seattle, Janet bought something called a ‘happy light’.  I had never heard of these before but if you live in an area with very little sun (oh…say…like Seattle) you can buy a mini version of a tanning bed for your face.  It sits on Janet’s desk and she turns it on most mornings to simulate that giant bright orb in the sky.  In Texas, we called this ‘the sun’.

The happy light is good therapy for people who get a little depressed in cloudy weather: roughly 40% of the population of Seattle (of which, 99% of those people are from California).  Since I grew up in Seattle, I have lived through numerous winters here and I didn’t realize depression was an option during the long winter months.  Ignorance really is bliss.  As I sit here writing this blog, I can see Janet’s happy light out of the corner of my eye.  I will still see the light, seared into the retina of my right eye, for days to come.


I’m a natural heater.  Just the thought of hot yoga makes me a little faint.  In Texas, if I didn’t exercise before 9am, for about 9 months out of the year, I had a very hard time with overheating.  I drank a lot more Gatorade in Texas than I do here.  In Seattle, for about 9 months out of the year, I have to wait to go walking or jogging until the afternoon thaw.  No matter how many layers I wear, my poor nose gets so cold.  I’m afraid I’ll have to start wearing a Hannibal Lector mask to keep my nose warm.


The middle part of Texas is classified as a subtropical, subhumid climate and I think that seems about right.  Washington is classified as a temperate climate and I used to think that meant a mellow climate that was neither too hot nor too cold.  Now, after living in Texas for a long time, I realize temperate actually means freaking cold and incredibly moist.

Texas was never too humid, probably only 30 or 40%, but Seattle usually hovers near 98 – 100%.  Yeah, it’s either raining or seriously thinking about it.  When I was growing up, we never used the term humid (we left that for the south) for our hot spells in August, we used the term ‘muggy’ to describe the weather.  One person described it as such, “walking outside, during your one hot week every summer, is kind of like waking up in someone’s mouth: hot and moist with a slightly unpleasant odor around.”  Thanks for that.

The surprising thing about rainfall is Texas averages about 34 inches a year and Washington averages about 37 so on paper we seem very similar.  In reality, those 34 inches in Texas are mostly limited to hurricanes along the coast with occasional deluges in the Dallas area and Washington’s rainfall is really drizzle which is stretched out over 90% of the year (hence the lack of sun).

Some miscellaneous differences

My towels don’t dry here in Seattle unless I decide to switch from daily showering to the less pleasant twice a week showering.

The Seattle Times double wraps my newspaper because the ground is usually wet.

In Texas, in the winter, the static electricity which built up in my body bordered on the dangerous.  I have actually turned off a TV by zapping the hell out of myself.

The Prius gets worse gas mileage in Seattle, not just because of the hills, but because the air conditioning runs off the batteries and the heater runs off the gas engine.  45 mpg is still pretty good, though.

Seattle has something called ‘freezing fog’.  Yeah, I’d never heard of it either.

Even though I’m back in the land of coffee (Janet likes to point out the very obvious reason why the Pacific Northwest is the home of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best and Tully’s), I have discovered the joys of hot tea in Seattle.  In Texas, their teas are best served cold.

Some things are the same no matter where I live

I can’t fold a fitted sheet.

I love to read and write.

I don’t like vegetables and don’t know why people keep growing them.

My idea of a perfect day is the same everywhere:  80 – 85 degrees with a few wispy clouds in the deep blue sky and a slight breeze.  Washington: mid July – end of August; Texas: three days in March, if you’re lucky.

Any day of the year is a good day for ice cream.


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