Thanks to the SuperSonics, Seattle is now known for something other than rain. It wasn't always that way.

When I was growing up here, the San Francisco 49ers were the closest big league team - in any sport - and we saw all of their games on television.

I can also remember when I was 10 years old and, along with three buddies, sneaked into Sicks' Stadium to watch the world heavy Patterson and Pete Rademacher. No one really cared.

That was 1957 in the pre-Sonicsteria era.

Now everybody here cares about sports and this town, which for so many years had its biggest celebrations whenever the Boeing Co. was awarded a big contract, has been celebrating over the Sonics for weeks.

"It don't even rain when the Sonics play now," said one ardent fan. "Everybody loves the Sonics, Don't you?"

It is indeed hard to find a soul who isn't caught up in the happennig.

The Sonics are front-page news every day and Seattle, with a metropolitan-area population of nearly 1 million, comes to a standstill when they take the court.

Sunday's game began at 10:30 a.m. here, conflicting with most church services.

No problem.

Even we can't compete with the Sonics now," said a local minister, whose church is in the central area of the city.

The marquee outside said:

"10 o'clock service postponed until 1 o'clock or 1/2 hour after Sonics bite the Bullets, whichever comes first."

Other churches in all parts of the city reported attendance down or services postponed or canceled.

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Association sponsors a spring basketball league and it has canceled all games conflicting with the Sonics.

There was a power failure Sunday morning in the San Juan Islands across Puget Sound from Seattle. Residents' complaints to the power company did not concern spoiled food or melted ice but, "How are we supposed to watch the Sonics' game?"

There are T-shirts galore, one saying "Bite the Bullets," another "The Sonic Boom." And it is easier to find a car without a license plate than it is to find one without a Sonic bumper sticker.

Women show up at the Seattle Coliseum in expensive evening gowns styled after Sonic uniforms, resplendant with sequinned numbers.

A crowd estimated at 10,000 showed up Sunday night at Seattle-Tacoma Airport to greet the Sonics when they returned from Washington and there was live television coverage.

When asked why he would go to an airport to watch a couple of 7-footers pick up their luggage, Harold Welch said, "Because this is what's happening. I'm 52 years old but the Sonics have made me feel like 25. I'm so worked up, if I had a basketball right now I'd bet $25 I could dunk it."

Welch is 5-6, 210 pounds.

The crowd greeting the team is said to be larger than the one that greeted the Washington Huskies when they returned from beating Michigan in this year's Rose Bowl game.

People have begged, stolen and borrowed trying to get tickets to the 14,098-seat Coliseum and, almost as an answer to their prayers, a mobile home show forced the Sonics out of their cozy home for game four of the series tonight.

As a result, the game was moved to the spacious Kingdome.

People camped outside all night and gobbled up 29,000 tickets in a few hours.

An additional 15,000 tickets with what Sonic officials call "extreme limited view" were put on sale and many of them will be sold by game time.

The Sonics were predicting a sellout crowd of 44,000 for the game, but now they say a more realistic figure will be more like 38,000.

The attendance record for a single National Basketall Association game is 35,077, which witnessed the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orlean Jazz at the Superdome earlier this season.

The Sonic fever represents the high-water mark for a city whose sports enthusiasm once was largely confined to rooting for the 49ers, a team that was only on image on a television screen.

When the Sonics came into existence 11 basketball seasons ago, the only other professional teams here were the Seattle Totems of the Western Hockey league and the Seattle Rainiers baseball team of the Pacific Coast League.

The Totems played in the Coliseum, which was built for the 1962 World's Fair, and the Rainiers played in rickety Sicks' Stadium.

Now there is a domed stadium and eight professional teams in Seattle - the Sonics, the Mariners of the American League in baseball, the Seahawks of the National Football League, the Cascades of World Team Tennis, the Sounders of the Norther American Soccer League, the Smashers of the International Volleyball Association, the Breakers of the Western International Hockey League and the Sockeyes of the International Ping Pong League.

But among them all, the Sonics are kings these days, and the city is poised for the invading Bullets tonight. For those calling the Sonics to ask about tickets there is a recorded message: "Dick Motta's Fat Lady is singing, and her sounds like a sonic boom."