Strange Maps: Just How Far North is Seattle?

August 13, 2007

Take a moment and imagine the Canadian cities of Quebec City, Montreal, and Toronto. Does your mind conjure up images of snow, heavy winter coats, car tires spinning in heavy snow, and in general being so far north that you’re within spitting image of the Arctic Circle?

Now think of Seattle. Lots of rain, no ice, very little snow (except on gorgeous Mt. Rainer), heavy on the coffee intake, lots of bridges and very few snow tires …

Would it surprise you if I told you Seattle is located more north than Toronto, Montreal, and even Quebec City? See the red line on the map below showing where Seattle is in relation to the three Canadian cities (click on the map to enlarge):

Seattle in relation to Canadian cities

In fact, Toronto is so far south that it’s nearly on par with Detroit and Chicago. (And in fact, if you head south from Detroit, you’ll end up in Canada!)

Oh, you knew all these? Ok, grump grump, I’m not talking to YOU, I’m talking to the person behind you …


43 Responses to “Strange Maps: Just How Far North is Seattle?”

  1. Belle Says:

    It is not as chilly in Seattle precisely because of the currents from the Pacific Ocean. I am not a geographer or climatologist but that is what I remember from Physical Geography 101. Toronto, on the other hand, is located way inland on a large continent – which means BRRRRRRRRRR!!!!
    Even Vancouver, British Columbia, is not at all as cold and snowy as Toronto. :)

    Despite all that, the excessive moisture from all that rain makes the Pacific North West somehow numbing and miserable during the winter, or so I hear.

  2. Alison Says:

    We had this latitude discussion a few years back, you were working in ME (I think) at the time?

    The UK is much further north than e.g. Seattle, but kept warmer because its surrounded by sea (loses heat slower), and also we’ve got the jet stream.

    Jet stream can also be a nuisance, i.e. reposition and it never stops raining. cf. this summer.

  3. a Says:

    Are Americans really THAT bad at geography that it’s some kind of revelation when they figure out that southern Ontario is more south than some states?

    • Grant Says:

      Yes, ALL Americans are really that bad at geography. I’m certain that the 240-some US universities with a geography program don’t teach anything of the sort.

      Of course ALL Canadians are sophisticated because they ALL speak French and English fluently. They ALL don’t own guns unlike those revolutionaries south of the 49th parallel. They’re ALL about peace, order, and good governance.

      I’d bet not two Canucks out of a hundred could tell the difference between Alabama and Mississippi.

      Maybe it’s time to question the myths about Americans you were taught in “grade three”. We don’t run the world because we’re stupid; we’re smarter that you think.

  4. Stephen Rees Says:

    The UK is surrounded not by the jet stream but the Gulf Stream – the jet stream is atmospheric, the Gulf Stream is an ocean current that brings warm water to Britain from the Caribbean. Or at least it did – climate change will probably affect it quite dramatically.

    The Pacirfic North West does not enjoy one warm ocean current but alternates between two – El Niňo and La Niňa – one warm and the other cold.

    And Toronto is on the same latitude as Florence!

  5. Aaron Says:

    No, it’s just your misconception that all Americans are lazy morons and the fact that you obviously didn’t grasp the intent of the article.

    It seems odd to most people (those who don’t sit around and consider these kinds of things on a regular basis, at least) that a point farther North on a map should have warmer weather. Remember, it’s drilled into everyone’s head that “North = cold” in everyday conversation here in the Northern Hemisphere.

  6. Ian Says:

    I think there’s something a tad wrong about your map, though. Maine is technically the Northernmost of the 48 contiguous states. I think you’re using one of the helpful but misleading projections. I don’t know of the validity of any of your latitudinal comparisons to Canadian cities, but if all you did was draw that big red line from Seattle to Maine, you might not be exactly correct- especially about Québec City.

    And, yes, anyone who actually paid attention in N. American geography would not be surprised by the contents of the article. :)

  7. anthony Says:

    The southern most tip of Ontario is inline with Northern California….so why do so many americans think canada is ice and snow….

  8. eric Says:

    Your picture is flat. The earth is not flat, it is round. You are not taking this into consideration. You also are not taking the direction of currents into consideration, either. It may be further north, but that means little to nothing in terms of temperature and weather.

  9. RealCanadianEh Says:

    im in southern alberta and we get pretty good weather actually. we might have a month or two where were under -30 Celsius ( -22 F), but in the summer we can go as high as 40 Celsius ( 104 F)

  10. Peri Says:

    I stumbled on this post and it was refreshing to see that someone else in the world looks at things like this and thinks they are interesting.

    It’s like if I was to ask you what the most easterly point in the United States was, you’d probably say Maine, and you’d be wrong.


  11. bea Says:

    you gotta be kidding me with this? the picture you show to prove your point is of the united states completely horizontal. The planet is on a TILTED AXIS. Turn your same picture diagonal at the same angle as the earths axis then draw a line lol omg.. just wow

  12. DaVince Says:

    If you take it further east, then you’ll find that New York City is roughly at the same latitude as Madrid, Spain… Talk about a difference in weather and temperature… All thanks to the Gulf Stream…

  13. aggtee Says:

    Peter’s projection should sort this out!

  14. GEO JACK Says:

    Terrible projection. Terrible map. No lats longs, etc. Good discovery. Kind of looks like google maps…

  15. IdiotSavant Says:

    OK, 1)Your map is VERY flawed. It’s a 2-dimensional map and your dimensions are ALL WRONG! According to your “evidence”, the state of Oregon is larger in area than California, when nothing could be further from the truth.
    2) The northernmost point in the contiguous 48 states (aka “the lower 48″) is located in Northwest Angle, MINNESOTA at 49° 23′ 4.1” N. If you want to make some sort of intellectual point, Why dontcha try some fact-checking first, eh?
    3) Canada is considered to most Americans to be a frigid country because more of your country experiences below freezing temperatures and for ALOT longer than the U.S. Most of you Canucks have just been smart enough to live within 100 mi (thats 161 km) of the U.S. border.
    4) Quit bitching. Accept who you are and be proud of being Canadian, hosers!

  16. Mark Says:

    Are Americans ACTUALLY that fucking stupid? the only part of Canada that have that much snow and is cold is the Territories, which are North West Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon Territories, which make up like 2 percent of Canada’s population. Fuck, You American assholes who think that we Canadians just run around on skidoo’s and live in igloos. I think its the same thing as saying that all American’s are Ignorant, Fat, and have a stupid ass president(which i guess is true)


  17. Alex Says:

    So, Mark. May I call you Mark? Anyway, No, Americans are not as retarded as you seem to think. Most Americans think that Canadians like hockey, are easy-going on the subject of Marijuana, and say nice things about the queen.

    Of course, of the five Canadian citizens I’ve known personally, this has been true for all of them. Igloos and Skidoos are thought of by the Americans I know as Alaskan things (Alaska being one of our states according to the same Americans).

    Of course, the Canadians I know are usually polite enough not to bash people they don’t know personally for being stupid. I suppose that means I have a biased sample.

    • Matt Says:

      Where not all Americans stereotype Canadians, us friendly Canadians do have our bad eggs as well.
      We are, for the most part, friendly. There are nice things to be said about the Queen, pot is alright, though I don’t smoke it… I do love hockey, you did forget a few things about us Canadians: we love our beer, it’s never too cold, though we don’t like 5 feet of snow, we deal with it and schools sometimes don’t close, it’s a toque, not a hat. Etc, etc.
      As for Snowmobiles, Canadians invented those. Igloos aren’t actually lived in, they are built, normally, when a blizzard comes and they have no shelter. They aren’t always built out of blocks of snow, they are usually built into snow banks and used as temporary shelters, though igloos are made of blocks at times.
      I don’t understand why Mark has such a problem with these stereotypes when ads like this:

      We can make fun of our own stereotypes, eh?

  18. John Says:

    you are an idiot. yes seattle is more south that those other cities, but it’s climate of “no snow” is NOT due to it’s latitude. it is because it is right next to the ocean. the ocean moderates it’s climate. please die.

  19. Katie Says:

    Thanks for posting this… it is unfortunate that most Americans think Canadians like hockey, pot, and the Queen… then again, it is unfortunate that most Canadians think Americans are ignorant, socially backwards/delayed and fat. My point being, I guess, is that everyone will have their biases.

    I try not to judge too much… I am not fond of either the Canadian OR American government (nor do I see much difference between the two as of late), but I try not to make snap judgements about the citizens of either country. To the rest of the world, we’re just morons from North America… whether from the U.S. or Canada (then again, maybe that’s an ignorance on my part about the rest of the world).

    But, I thank you for posting this, because one thing I have noticed from the majority of Americans I have talked to (which has been a surprisingly large amount – especially after working in call centre), a LOT of Americans know very little about Canada (if at least, or rather, especially, in geographic terms). And although the map may be flawed as some people so aptly point out, it brings attention to an ignorance many hold about Canada… the majority of us do not live in igloos or travel by dog-sled. Nor are the majority of us beer-guzzling-pot-head-hockey-freaks (although that’s not exactly a geographic issue). :-)

  20. Katie Says:

    And Mark… please make sure you read an entire article before you attack someone, or else you risk looking like a fool. The author did not claim Canada was all “igloos and skidoos”… the author simply stated what many people ‘think’ about Canada.

  21. Mike Says:

    Toronto will never be on the same level as Chicago…figuratively and geographically.

  22. Mark Says:

    I didn’t attack the article maker. I was saying it to the idiots that posted after. And as well you now. Moron.

    And mike, you’re a moron. I bet you haven’t even been to Toronto. I’ve been to both places. and I just plain get a headache when I go to Chicago because of all the dirty pollution. Don’t get me wrong, Toronto pollutes as well, but Not half as much. AND there are WAY more homeless people in Chicago. I just hate when people are iggnorant. (exactly my point). stop being assholes.

  23. Jim Says:

    Boy, for pretending to be superior people, reading these post you’d think all Canadian are angry, judgmental people wishing death on anybody who doesn’t agree with them. Living in igloos must take all of the fun out of life.

  24. james Says:

    I’m half canadian (half dutch) and live in southern ontario near toronto. so i know how canadians live. we live in igloos. have dog sled races year round. play hockey while wearing our new fancy tuques. and drink our non-pancy ass beer. American’s are fat, eat cheesburgers all day, watch boring baseball and football. two really shitty sports, and drink their water down beer.

    Yed it’s cold here in winter but new york has been recently colder.

    my point is i like europe better. pgfstrah

  25. Josh Says:

    Seattle-Boeing Field 47° 32′ N 122° 18′ W
    Quebec AP 46° 48′ N 71° 23′ W
    Montreal AP (S) 45° 28′ N 73° 45′ W
    Toronto AP (S) 43° 41′ N 79° 38′ W


  26. Blake Says:

    Its amazing how negative people can be about a insignificant thing such as this. I really hope the igloo comment is joking, if not Jim and some others should read a book.

    “Boy, for pretending to be superior people,” Jim, last time i checked i didn’t see a sign above Canada saying that we are superior. If that is your interpretation, then thank you for calling Canadians superior.

    Great compliment.

  27. Guy Says:

    And here is something else for you (I apologize if someone else already said this, I didn’t read all 26 comments.) Point Pelee, Canada’s most southern point, is farther south than the northern border of California. Canada south of California, what?

  28. darling Says:

    The majority of responders on this post are douchebags for one reason or another. Too many reasons to enumerate. Thank goodness there are still people who see the ‘comments’ section as a chance for discussion. However, I grieve for humanity as a whole.

  29. haskman Says:

    Point Pelee starts at the 42nd parallel the same latitude as northern California as a matter of fact if not for a one day war between the Americans and Brits that would be the border now.

  30. momatoes Says:

    I see a lot of people misunderstanding this article.

    As far as I could tell, the author is NOT saying that the differences in weather are due to latitude. He is just pointing out that latitude does not entirely determine the weather. Also, that Canada’s borders are pretty far south. Then again, I’m not a mind reader, but I’m pretty sure I got the gist of this.

  31. Stephanie Says:

    Your site is really interesting.

  32. Rob Says:

    Totally shopped.

  33. VINOD Says:


    i wanted to know the best route to travel from seattle to toronto for the month of may,09.

    vinod sharma

  34. […] we will no longer be the punchline of (as many) jokes.  I actually didn’t know this until Guy commented on this.  Thanks, […]

  35. Nicole Says:

    Wow. I’m American, and I can correctly label every single country in the world (including islands), every Canadian Province and United State. It saddens me that every person outside of the US believes that we are all morons.

  36. Adios Amigos Says:

    seattle is further north than madawaska, it doesn’t matter if the world is curved or not. it’s also the only rainforest in the united states, which makes the weather miserable

    • Tim Smith Says:

      The “rainforest” you speak of is on the Olympic peninsula, between the Pacific Ocean and Seattle, which actually leaves Seattle in a rain shadow, receiving only 37 inches of rain a year. So, you’re wrong. I lived in Seattle for 2 years and now in Tampa, FL. It rains a lot more in Tampa than Seattle. Fact.

  37. zack Says:

    seattle is not a rainforest – dumb.

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