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Three Inches
added Thu December 25 2008 at 4:40 AM

I've been meaning to write for about forever, but I kept procrastinating. I originally planned on writing a snarky piece about how three inches of snow shuts down Seattle. While it's rather funny that such a small amount of snow can really affect this city, the snowstorms we've had since have definitely made the damage of three inches pale in comparison.

The first snowstorm came last Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I worked from home on Thursday because I already knew that Seattlites were pretty crazy when it comes to snow. I figured that I'd give it a day to let it all settle and I really needed to go into the office on Friday. It took me an hour and a half to get to the office by bus that morning (normally takes a little more than half an hour). The roads were still a mess. Buses were running late if they were running at all. Firetrucks and ambulances were running pretty much nonstop. The whole situation seemed like a comedy sketch. All for three inches of snow.

But then it snowed again, this time for real. On Saturday, we got somewhere in the neighborhood of six more inches of snow. The main street to get to my neighborhood (Queen Anne Ave) was not only closed, it was turned into an impromptu sledding hill. Then the sledding was turned into an all-out block party, with a steady stream of anywhere from a dozen to a hundred people throughout the next few days. Sunday through Tuesday, all the streets on Queen Anne Hill were covered with about 2-3 inches of ice. Not snow... not slush... solid ice. With the major access road completely closed and the other roads off the hill all but impassible without chains and four-wheel drive, we were stranded here at the top of the hill for a few days.

Today was the first real thaw since last week. When I was walking around the neighborhood this evening, the roads were all a quagmire of slush and dammed-up snow-melt. I did brave one of the major roads off the hill, and that was an adventure of partially-controlled decent through slush and ice (I'll skip the part where I almost got my car stuck on the front lawn). The trip back up the hill was white-knuckling a sprint up the hill before I lost momentum and traction.

To Seattle's credit, there are a _lot_ of hills here. I'd say that it's probably more hilly than either Flagstaff or Provo. But really the problem was that Seattle simply doesn't have the resources to handle winter weather. The freeways get cleared pretty quickly because there are already snowplows to handle the mountain passes, but the city streets don't get plowed until it's too late, if they get plowed at all. Queen Anne Ave is a major thoroughfare in and out of Queen Anne, and rather than try to keep it safe for cars, they just close the road off. I haven't been downtown since Friday, but even after the initial small storm, downtown was such a mess that I can only imagine how bad it got on Sunday. They do have chains for buses, but when major arterials get closed off, bus routes get messed up in the process. Not only do the people of Seattle not know how to deal with snow, the city of Seattle doesn't know how to deal with it.

And it's snowing again.

Merry Christmas, everybody, from Snowy Seattle


stephen says:
wow, that block party sounds like something that would happen on a sesame street christmas special.

yeah, we got hit pretty bad, but after driving once in virginia, i quickly learned that there are different kinds of snow driving. utah driving is so easy compared to the instant-ice they get in virginia (a quarter inch of snow will shut down schools)

anyhow, merry white christmas!
posted Thu December 25 2008 at 11:06 PM

Jo-Pete says:
Sure, if sesame street christmas specials had lots and lots of alcohol.
posted Fri December 26 2008 at 10:02 PM

Merry says:
Flag got about two feet of snow in the last little bit, and it was interesting to drive around in that, especially on some of the hills. But, on the other hand, Flagstaff DOES know how to deal with snow, and so do its citizens. It really didn't seem like that big a deal.
posted Mon December 29 2008 at 1:08 AM

mom says:
Flagstaff citizens may know how to deal with snow, but all those Tourists that visit to play in the snow really have no clue. Safer to stay home and avoid the dumdum drivers coming up from The Valley and CA.
posted Sat January 03 2009 at 4:04 PM


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