Local Wonder | KUOW News and Information

Local Wonder

Local Wonder solicits questions from our community and then listeners vote on the question that they want KUOW to cover. Reporters will investigate the story and present it on air and online. Local Wonder is guided by listeners and their curiosity about Seattle, our region and the people who live here. What do you wonder about Seattle, the Puget Sound region or its people?

Skiers in the Methow Valley, which gets almost as much sun as Las Vegas or Phoenix.
Courtesy of Brian de Place

This winter was one of the rainiest winters on record in Seattle. That got KUOW listener Tom Donnelly wondering, “How far from Seattle would you have to travel to get a full day of sunshine?"

We too were desperate to know.


FLICKR PHOTO/Ed Suominen(CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/hTZt4V

Jeannie Yandel speaks with KUOW's Morning Edition host Emily Fox about a question she is trying to answer as part of our Local Wonder series. The question was posted by listener Tom Donnelly. He asked, "How far and in what direction do you have to travel away from Seattle to get a full day of sunshine?" Yandel also speaks with State Climatologist Nick Bond about where to find sunshine in the state.

A 1960s sign from an old flophouse in Pioneer Square in Seattle.
Flickr/Matthew Klein (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4PF4Bn

It’s not an easy time to find an apartment in Seattle. You’d be hard pressed to find a one-bedroom on Capitol Hill for less than $1,400 per month — and rents for similarly-sized apartments in swanky new buildings regularly soar upward of $3,000.

columbia center gif
Courtesy of ESI Design

Capitol Hill resident Steven Sieden can see the Columbia Center from his bedroom window. The 76-story building is like a monolith, dominating his view.

Late one night a while back, he noticed it “sending out messages.”

Mitch, a worker for a marijuana farm in Skagit Valley in 2013. The farm doesn’t exist anymore.
Daniel Berman

We followed the money trail from one bag of weed. 

On Sunday, the Seattle Sounders were officially welcomed back to their home field for the first time after winning the championship last year.

The team may play under one championship banner now, but when they stand for the national anthem many players face a flag that is not their own.


Downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier, circa 1920s, probably when more people said Warshington.
Flickr/Seattle Municipal Archives https://flic.kr/p/cydqbs (CC BY 2.0)

We’re a quirky bunch out here in Washington state. We eat cream cheese on our hotdogs. The western part of the state freaks out when it snows. We don’t pay income tax.

A construction crane at the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Kiewic (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/MLM8np

Yellow and orange cranes loom over Seattle’s landscape like an army of gentle dinosaurs.  

The bridge at Deception Pass, between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Islands. It got its name from Captain George Vancouver, who felt deceived by the width of the waterway.
Flickr Photo/gemteck1 https://flic.kr/p/6aoQAH (CC BY 2.0)

Anyone who has road-tripped around Washington state might have noticed a depressing trend: Cape Disappointment. Point No Point. Deception Pass. Foulweather Bluff. Useless Bay. Point Defiance. Obstruction Island. Massacre Bay. Destruction Island. Dismal Nitch.

Violet and Norward Brooks in front of a house they struggled to buy due to discrimination.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

The results of the recent presidential election has revealed stark divisions in this country.

This is especially clear in Seattle, where we’re notorious for being one of the most progressive cities in the country.


A Seattle tour map from 1965, two years after the U.S. Postal Service introduced ZIP codes. The ZIP codes were based on mail flow at that time.
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives: https://flic.kr/p/8k5eCd

If you’ve ever had a reason to look up Seattle’s ZIP codes — and yes, being bored at work is a valid reason — you might have noticed some super-tiny codes downtown.

The pink bacteria clinging to this Seattle bathmat is Serratia marcescens, which loves damp, soapy environments. It's mostly harmless.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

You see them when you slack on cleaning — mysterious pink rings and streaks that form in your toilets, sinks and bathtubs.

Excavation equipment has just begun digging for the next phase of Amazon's headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

As a general contractor who does small house remodels in Seattle, Chris Spott knows how to get rid of a pickup truck load of dirt. 

The King County ballot has a stub at the top you must tear off.
KUOW Photo/Jim Gates

Voting is hard. Your ballot is packed with decisions – some tougher than others. You have to parse the wonk, find the right-colored pen and sweat over whether you actually need a postage stamp.

For King and Snohomish county voters, there’s one more step: You’re asked to tear a stub off the top of your ballot before placing it in the security envelope. Or else … what?

Flickr Photo/Javacolleen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Seattle has a rat problem. Rat sightings in Seattle are double the national average. Population growth is part of the problem; so is the weather.

That’s meant good business for Adam Truitt, owner of Pest Fighter.

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