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It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, which is often shortened to Washington.
An oceanic climate (also called "west coast marine climate") predominates in western Washington, and a much drier semi-arid climate prevails east of the Cascade Range.
The remainder of the state consists of: deep temperate rainforests in the west; mountain ranges in the west, central, northeast and far southeast; and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture.
Washington is the second most populous state on the West Coast and in the Western United States, after California.
Despite western Washington's having a marine climate similar to those of many coastal cities of Europe, there are exceptions such as the "Big Snow" events of 1880, 1881, 18 and the "deep freeze" winters of 1883–84, 1915–16, 1949––56, among others.
During these events western Washington experienced up to 6 feet (1.8 m) of snow, sub-zero (−18 °C) temperatures, three months with snow on the ground, and lakes and rivers frozen over for weeks.