When It Rains…

Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess passes Star Princess on the afternoon of June 25, 2015 on a wet, rainy Ketchikan day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Thursday, June 25, 2015
On the pier in Ketchikan, Alaska, there’s a very noticeable installation located adjacent to the second berth, directly across from the splashy sign hung over the spot where Front and Mission Streets intersect. The sign proclaims that Ketchikan is “The Salmon Capital of the World”, but the device mounted to the side of the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau building indicates Ketchikan is famous for something besides salmon: its annual rainfall.

Ketchikan's famous sign...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Ketchikan’s famous sign…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...and equally-famous rainfall gauge! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…and equally-famous rainfall gauge! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The city of Ketchikan gets about 150 inches (3,810 mm) of rain each year, and in recent years it has been flirting with the 200 inch (5080 mm) mark. To put that in perspective, Vancouver’s average annual rainfall is but 43.98 inches (1117.2 mm), and Seattle gets even less, at 38 inches, or 965.2 mm. Seattle’s rainforest climate is well-documented, and Vancouver’s wintery rainfall earns it the nickname “Wetcouver” despite the fact that Ketchikan gets three times the rainfall of Vancouver on an average year.

Star Princess had prime docking space in Ketchikan this morning, tying up at Berth 1 - just steps from the heart of the city. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Star Princess had prime docking space in Ketchikan this morning, tying up at Berth 1 – just steps from the heart of the city. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

So, it is perhaps no surprise that when Princess Cruises’ Star Princess came alongside this morning, it wasn’t just raining: it was absolutely pouring. Joining the rain in an atmospheric menage-a-trois was a strong, gusting wind that rushed along the Tongass Narrows and slammed into the ship from the stern quarter, racing through the streets and bringing sheets of rain down on the city that reminded me of footage of hurricanes in Florida during the summer months. Add to that the damp, chilling temperatures that barely broke 50°F (10°C), and getting off the warm Star Princess began to look less and less appealing.

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