Temperatures in Gig Harbor are slightly cooler in the summer and slightly warmer in the winter than in other areas of Washington, making it a desirable location. The climate of Gig Harbor is within the range of some of the more comfortable places in the United States and even Washington State.
Having lived here for over half of my life, I find the climate to be one of the big attractions of living in Gig Harbor. Yes, it’s the Northwest and there is rain, but not as much as most people would assume, and the lack of brutally hot summers and cold winters more than makeup for it. This is especially beneficial with all the opportunities for outdoor recreation here.
How Much Sun Does Gig Harbor Get?
On average, Gig Harbor has about 139 sunny days per year, so slightly more than a third of the time. This is less than the national average of 205 days a year. While that is a considerable difference, it does not mean it is raining the rest of the time, just more overcast than in other places.
I actually feel I enjoy the clear sunny days much more than I would if it was like that every day. There’s nothing like seeing Mount Rainier clearly in its majestic glory, and everyone seems to have a bit more pep in their step when “the mountain is out”. On some sunny days, it remains obscured by its own localized cloud cover so it still gives local pause on the days it is clearly visible.
Is Gig Harbor Frequently Foggy?
Gig Harbor has occasional morning and nighttime fog in the late fall and mid to late winter. It occurs more frequently than in other parts of Washington. Most of the time the fog quickly burns off as temperatures rise in the morning but occasionally in the fall there are foggy patches at night.
It is not uncommon during some months to drive toward Tacoma on a foggy morning and drive right into a clear sunny day as you cross the bridge. This could be connected to the fact that Gig Harbor is statistically slightly wetter than other places in the region.
This is a result of higher dew points and lower temperatures at certain times of year and the fact that most of the time Gig Harbor is not extremely windy. These conditions are most likely to occur in parts of October, November, January and February. December tends to have lower humidity and therefore less opportunity for fog.
It isn’t a daily occurrence like you may find in San Fransisco, but is probably more common than you might encounter in other areas of Western Washington and from my experience, tends to be very patchy and burn off quickly.
Does it Snow in Gig Harbor?
On Average Gig Harbor only has 2.2 inches of snow per year. This is less snow than average for Washington State and much less than the national average of 28 inches. Because of its somewhat temperate winters, it is rare for snow to stay around for long, and usually, temperatures come up again and melt the snow within a few days to a week.
It is a bit of a treat when we get real snow that sticks and everyone enjoys the beauty and taking their kids sledding.
The downside is that most things shut down because few people have snow tires or the skills for driving in the snow. You are at risk for a fender bender even if you do know how to drive in it, because you might get run into by someone who doesn’t! For the most part, the schools close and everyone stays home for a day or two.
About every ten years or so there is a major snowfall that really keeps things shut down for a week or so. There are a lot of hills in Gig Harbor and small side roads that do not get plowed or sanded making accessibility difficult to many areas during those times.
How Much Rain Does Gig Harbor Get?
On average, Gig Harbor gets about 46 inches of rain per year compared with the U.S. national average of 38 inches. It also averages about 153 days per year of precipitation. Gig Harbor is wetter than most of Western Washington. Even nearby Tacoma only averages 39.22 inches per year in comparison.
Some parts of Gig Harbor are considerably drier than others. Artondale, a large area west of the Hwy 16 corridors for instance gets 2-3 inches less rain according to climate maps but areas over the Purdy bridge like Wauna get more.
Most locals run around without an umbrella as the rain can often be just a drizzle or short shower you can wait out. However, there have been a few Novembers when it’s raining sideways at times during late season soccer games (club soccer is very big in Gig Harbor).
Does it Hail Often in Gig Harbor?
Hail is a seasonal occurrence with short bouts of it in the spring and fall as the seasons change. Usually, hail in Gig Harbor is small in size and short in duration. It does not happen often, but you will get a bit yearly.
Is Gig Harbor Cloudy?
Like most of Western Washington, Gig Harbor is a bit on the cloudy side. With only 139 days of sunshine, that leaves 226 days of being overcast. The good news is that only 153 of those days is has actual precipitation, leaving 73 days of it just being somewhat cloudy. On the upside, sunsets are gorgeous when the clouds are right and it is ideal for keeping things green most of the year.
It is something I have grown used to and most locals don’t even think about, but something to be taken into consideration if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Is Gig Harbor Windy?
The majority of the time Gig Harbor is not windy, but at some times of the year, such as late fall and mid-winter it can be blustery and even suffer a strong wind storm every few years, much like most of the Puget Sound region.
In my personal experience living in Gig Harbor for over 25 years, the most common season for wind storms is November through February, although general windy weather can be common in March also.
How Cold Does it Get in Gig Harbor
The coldest average temperature in Gig Harbor is 40.9 in December according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). This is slightly warmer than other parts of Western Washington and considerably warmer than Eastern Washington.
Keep in mind that this is an average and while it is uncommon, occasionally we get below freezing temperatures but it is rare and does not last for long. This is why this region has a 236-day growing season. Below freezing temperatures are most likely to be experienced only in December, January and February according to NOAA temperature charts.
Low temperatures in the summer run between 50-54.
How Hot Does it Get in Gig Harbor?
According to NOAA, average summer high temperatures in Gig Harbor are between 69 and 75. July 2022 had a record heat wave with a temperature of 94.9 and a heat index of 98.3 according to GigHarborWeather.com , a website that features school closures and other important weather information for Gig Harbor.
My long-term experience has been the averages reflected by NOAA data, but since 2015 we have experienced temperatures in the 80s and 90s during summer months a bit more than usual. These temperatures make a plunge in Puget Sound refreshing. The average temperature of Puget Sound is 56.7 in the summer.
Is Gig Harbor a Temperate climate?
With average high temperatures in the 70s and average low temperatures right at freezing, in comparison to much of the U.S. and even Washington state, Gig Harbor can be considered temperate. Gig Harbor has a comfort index of 7.4 out of 10 making it one of the more pleasant places to live in Washington State.
This is something that has kept my family and me here for over 25 years. I’m happy with rarely needing snow tires or digging the snow out of the driveway and find it a bonus that summer temperatures can be managed without central air conditioning. Though this year has been an exception, traditionally there are only a few days a year that would make you desire a quality air conditioner.
Being near the water means balmy days most summers and also keeps the winter temperatures from moving much below freezing. Annually temperatures range from 40 to 64. This means that if it hits 60, many locals think of that as shorts and sandals weather, and if it snows, everyone stays home. I have some friends that wear shorts year round and in the winter just and socks and a sweater.
Does Gig Harbor Experience Extreme Weather Events?
Tornados are generally quite rare in Washington State, but there have been occurrences according to KIRO News weather. A very weak, small tornado has even touched down in Port Orchard, a few miles from Gig Harbor in 2018 doing some slight damage to one building and a few homes that were hit by fallen trees and debris.
South West Washington experienced an unprecedented tornado in 1972 that damaged homes and schools and injured 300 people with wind speeds up to 104 miles an hour.
In 2021 a brief tornado warning was issued in nearby Kitsap County but nothing came of it though severe marine conditions closed the Hood Canal Bridge.
I do personally know of a water spout that formed in the main Harbor that caused a bit of damage to some shingles of a building along the waterfront. This was a highly unusual event despite how minor it was. I don’t believe it was even considered a tornado but I recall seeing it in the newspaper and knowing the person living in the apartment that was affected.
Hurricanes and Storms:
Washington once had what was considered the only “Extratropical Cyclone” in U.S. history. The Columbus Day Storm in 1962, had gusts from 88-106 miles per hour claimed 46 lives statewide, caused massive power outages, and did millions of dollars in damage according to NOAA historical data.
In more recent years, The Inauguration Day Storm of 1993 featured gusts of 60-70 MPH, claimed 5 lives, and did $130 million in damage to Western WA.
The most damage came from large trees falling on homes and cars, rain damage, and massive power outages.
I understand there was a lot of local commentary on the fact that the large billboard that had an election ad on it, at the entrance of Gig Harbor was still up, and Bill Clinton’s face was ripped off by the storm on the day of his inauguration.
With Puget Sound opening to the ocean, there is a risk that a severe earthquake in the Cascadia fault could create Tsunami effects in Puget Sound. Most of the Gig Harbor area is elevated but some low-lying areas like downtown Gig Harbor could be at risk. The one recorded Tsunami in Gig Harbor was in 1949 when a 6-8 foot wave entered the harbor after a freak landslide occurred across Puget Sound near Salmon Beach. This landslide was huge and was the result of an earthquake and was a very unusual occurrence.
Having lived in Gig Harbor for many years the low risk of this is not something that has concerned me and I feel fortunate to live in a place that has so few earthquakes compared to parts of California. Earthquakes are not unheard of but strong ones have so far been very few and far between.
Gig Harbor’s climate ranks as a more comfortable and temperate climate than most of Washington and many places in the United States. While sunny days are less than elsewhere, they do happen about 1/3 of the year. Gig Harbor makes up for it by having weather that is rarely below freezing and has little snow. We also rarely suffer severe storms and other natural disasters in comparison to other parts of Washington State or the U.S.
Beautiful summers with warm weather stretching into the fall contribute to the natural beauty of living in the Northwest. The climate is just one thing that makes this such a popular hometown.