Which Hometown Gets Less Rain?

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

16 June 2014

Seattle: Switzerland/Liechtenstein

The 2nd most popular question I’ve received since I’ve been here has been “Doesn’t it rain a lot in Seattle?” Well, yes it does, but – after doing some research, I learned that Seattle gets less average rainfall than Bern! Plus – the rain makes both places all that much more green! Not to mention we’re now getting into the summer when the sun sets around 10pm and it’s warm and beautiful in both places.

In addition to the precipitation (or maybe BECAUSE of the precipitation) there is a remarkable Sinesgliche (like mindedness) between my home town of Seattle and these Alpine nations. This past winter, I started to detect the similarities and familiarities while reading Diccon Bewes’s book “Swiss Watching”. Then, when the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, that sense of familiarity only increased. For example, when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and I read through the Twitter stream for “#HowSeattleRiots” I really had to laugh at the similarities such as stopping at the cross walks to wait for the light to change – even when there’s no traffic. (here’s a video of that)

It has become all that much more real to me now that I’m on the ground in Bern. Here’s a list I’ve started of those things that our two areas – Seattle and Switzerland/Liechtenstein – have in common. (this is not a full “sister republics” comparison.  That’ll come after I deliver credentials :-).  I’ve got 10 to start and would love your input on other similarities:

  • #1: We all stop at crosswalks.
  • #2: Most who live in these regions hike, bike, ski and, in general, love of the outdoors (Preservation of hiking trails is actually codified in the Swiss constitution here!)
  • #3: We are all VERY focused on recycling: for example, one of the lines in #HowSeattleRiots made fun of Seattleites for getting a little nutty by putting their pizza boxes in the trash instead of the compost.
  • #4: Many individuals from each are like treasure boxes. It takes a while to get to know them, but then, when they open up, they are sparkling, warm and loyal.
  • #5: We are very, very green: we seek renewable and non-fossil fuel energy sources – WA State produces 2/3 of its energy from hydro; of the energy Switzerland produces, 60% is hydro.
  • #6: Washington State and Switzerland both have a blended representative/direct democracy.
  • #7: We love Soccer/Futbol – in fact , we share Stefan Frei, the Seattle Sounders goalkeeper who is originally from Altstaetten, Switzerland (note: as I’ve shared recently – I’m personally still learning about Soccer/Futbol – but Seattleites are, in general, crazy for soccer).
  • #8: Rain: Surprisingly, Bern has more average rain per year than Seattle – although Seattle has slightly more rainy days. Specifically: Seattle gets approx. 952mm/year over 150 rainy days and Bern gets approx. 986mm/year over an average of 147 days.
  • #9: Mountains: Each has iconic mountains across its terrain – whether it’s Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, or even Mount Baker in Washington State or the Matterhorn, the Eiger, the Jungfrau or the Naafkopf in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
  • #10: Latitude – We’re all at approximately the 47th parallel.

What else do we have in common? Let me know! I look forward to hearing from you!