Anacortes, Washington is known as “The Gateway to the San Juan Islands,” and offers ready access to much of Western Washington’s natural beauty. Nestled on the shores of Fidalgo Island, Anacortes boasts miles of saltwater beaches, four freshwater lakes, and over 3,000 acres of parks and forestland. The city is also home to several annual cultural events including the Anacortes Jazz Festival and the renowned Anacortes Arts Festival. The historic downtown center features a growing business community offering specialty shops, antiques stores, art galleries, and restaurants.
Recently, Anacortes invested heavily in its newly remodeled schools, a new police station, a new community center and a new library.
Anacortes is located on the northern end of Fidalgo Island. It covers approximately fourteen square miles, with development spread along the west, east, and north shorelines and at March Point. Approximately one-half of the City area is in City park and forest recreational areas, with most of this area in the central & southern areas of the City. The City is bounded on three sides by twelve and onehalf miles of saltwater shoreline of Burrows Bay, Rosario Strait, Guemes Channel, and Fidalgo Bay. There are four fresh-water lakes: Cranberry Lake, Cannery Pond, Whistle Lake and Heart Lake.
Elevations within the City vary from sea level to 600 feet in the southwest quadrant and to the top of the 1,270 feet of Mt. Erie, offering a commanding view of the surrounding region. The locale of Anacortes with its gently sloping topography offers extraordinary marine vistas from numerous sites within the City boundaries and unique opportunities for shoreline access and water related activities.
Anacortes temperatures are relatively mild. Summer daytime mean temperatures are in the 70's, with night time temperatures in the 50's. Maximum temperatures reach 80 to 85 degrees, although a few 90 to 100 degree days have been recorded. The highest temperatures and lowest relative humidity are recorded during periods of easterly winds. December and January are the coldest months, with average minimum temperatures in the upper 30's.
The prevailing wind direction is from the southeast in winter and southwest in summer. During late spring and summer, a prevailing westerly and northwesterly flow of air into Puget Sound brings a dry season beginning in May which reaches a peak in July. In late fall and winter, a prevailing southwesterly and westerly air flow from over the Pacific Ocean results in a wet season beginning in October which lasts until the beginning of the dry season in May. During winter, the combined influence of low pressure systems off the Pacific coast and cold air from the Fraser River Canyon produce strong northeasterly winds. Although it is not uncommon to have 30 to 40 knot winds under these conditions, the short fetch in the Anacortes area usually limits wind generated wave heights to not more than six feet. (The Surface Winds Over Puget Sound And The Strait Of Juan De Fuca And Their Oceanographic Effects, 1954)
The Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island has recorded wind gusts up to 73 miles per hour and sustained westerly velocities up to 54 miles per hour. (Data from National Weather Service, between 1945 to 1962; velocities recorded in December, precise dates unknown.)
Total precipitation for December is less than 1.9 inches in one winter out of ten; it exceeds 6.5 inches in one winter out of ten. Annual precipitation is less than 18 inches in one year out of ten, and it exceeds 33 inches in one out of 10 winters. Most winter precipitation falls as rain, but it is not uncommon to have 3 to 10 inches of snow. Thunderstorms occur 5 to 10 days a year. Most occur in the summer, but they have been recorded in each month of the year.
The City’s April 2005 population is approximately 15,700 with relatively straightforward infill potential of 1,575 homes and a build-out population of 19,300; a buildable residential lots map is Appendix C. The 2000 Census established that 21% of Anacortes residents were 65 years of age or older, almost twice the national average. If Anacortes’ segment of this population grows at a rate similar to the national average, our population of individuals 65 and over will be approximately 30% of our population by 2025.