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In late December 2008, Seattle experienced an unaccustomed outbreak of actual winter. Panic ensued: school closures, bus & flight cancellations, some scary accidents.

There was also a lot of urban tobogganing and cross-country skiing.



The problems started on Thursday morning, 12/19/08. An overnight snowstorm had deposited five inches of snow on Seattle, a city which rarely experiences more than a light dusting of the stuff once or twice a year, and where snow typically melts by midday. Not this time: temperatures had been hovering close to freezing for a couple of weeks, and the snow stayed.

Much of Seattle is spread out over hills, which presents a serious problem when the roadway becomes slick with snow and ice. Normally quite busy during rush hour, this steep section of Olive Way on Capitol Hill was virtually empty of cars as I walked down it to work at 7:45 A.M.:

Olive Way, 09/18/08

One car I saw in the vicinity was just spinning its wheels, struggling for traction:

Spinning wheels on Olive Way, 09/18/08

But just a few hundred yards away, on the other side of the I-5 entrance, Olive Way was crowded with buses coming from downtown, struggling to make it up onto the highway on-ramp:

Olive Way traffic jam, 09/18/08

Olive Way traffic, 12/19/08

Bus with chained tires

But that was really just the beginning. Snow started falling again late Saturday afternoon, continuing on and off all day Sunday and into the early hours of Monday, 12/22/08. On Sunday morning, this is the only kind of traffic that I saw on nearby Denny Way:

XC skiing Olive Way, 12/21/08

The city had in fact closed more steeply-inclined sections of Denny (like other, similarly-graded streets):

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This in turn created some sledding opportunities:

Sledding Denny Way

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Broadway looked like this at about 9:00 PM on Sunday:

Broadway

Broadway

[livejournal.com profile] crookedheart & [livejournal.com profile] marginalia shivering as I make them stop to take a photograph:

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And this shot sums up my reaction to Seattle as Winter Wonderland:

WTF?!

Here it is still snowing at about 10:00 at night, looking up Capitol Hill along John St:

John St


Buried cars at Harvard & Harrison, early AM Monday:

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The corner of Harvard & Olive, early in the morning of 12/22/08:

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The Space Needle, glimpsed through mist and snow, in the early morning hours on Monday, 12/22/08:

Space Needle thru snow

Icicles hanging from the lamp by my building's front door, early A.M. Monday:

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They say that we're in for more snow, tomorrow, before a warming trend kicks in later in the week ...

Date: 2008-12-23 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morganminstrel.livejournal.com
Everyone always forgets that we had a series of big winter storms back in 1996, which caused the city and other communities to claim they'd fix all the snow-related problems for when it happened again. Then in 2003, we had another big storm, which caused the city and other communities to claim they'd....

Yeah, you get the idea. ;-) It's not that the snow is completely unusual, it's that everyone around here seems to forget it's even a possibility and react to a storm with some sort of "OMG! It never snows here! WTF? We don't know what to do!" every dang time we get any of the white stuff. (And there were definitely smaller snowfalls between the ones I mentioned and now...)

Sorry, it just sometimes frustrates me. We get snow. We just never seem to want to develop the infrastructure (more plows? more salters/sanders?) to deal with it because "we don't get enough snow to make it a priority."

On another note, I think we did get more snow out here than you guys got in the city. The sledding looks like it was fun. :-)

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Anthony Diaz

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