It’s melting!

Photo by Bridget C.
Photo by Bridget C.
We are emerging from our snowed-in kitchen full of Christmas cookies and leftover food, to find that, for the first time in a couple of weeks, we can actually see our lawn again. There hasn’t been too much to post about for the last couple of days; “the streets are still slick, drive carefully” and “UPS still hasn’t brought our Christmas presents” seem to be the most common topics around here.

Now that we are able to leave the Hill without fearing for our lives on icy roads, however, it seems like a good time to look back at the last couple of weeks and talk about how it went. What did you think of the city’s handling of the snow and ice? How about Metro? Did you have to make extreme changes to your holiday plans? Did you enjoy the snow? Did you hate it? Tell us what you think, please.

My personal, random thoughts: I loved the snow, but hated not being able to get around, after a few days. I think the city handled it poorly and Metro did the best they could on streets that were not well-maintained. The US Postal Service came to our house every day, so they rock! As did our milkman from Smith Brothers, who did not miss a delivery. But UPS did not get a lot of our presents here before Christmas, although they were all here in Seattle and “out for delivery” before then. (Two packages still haven’t been delivered. I do have to give them credit for delivering one December 23 package to us after 9:00 pm, though. They were working late that night.)

Our experience with the emergency vet trip during the snow made it pretty clear that making transportation possible needs to be a high priority in snow events like these. It’s easy to say “just relax and take a few days off work,” but your perspective changes a lot when an emergency situation pops up and you can’t drive your car, and buses and cabs are not reliable, and walking may not be feasible for a variety of good reasons (such as, “there is no emergency vet in Southeast Seattle, so the walk would be several miles at best, with a sick and possibly dying cat in subfreezing weather”). The 36 seemed to be running pretty well on our part of Beacon Avenue, but the buses we needed to connect to in other parts of town were often cancelled or the trips were reported to take much, much longer than they should, and so it often seemed like a safer option to just stay home — but there are situations when you cannot stay home, and the city needs to do a better job facilitating transport in that case.

Red Apple was open every time I tried to go there during the snow, and the folks working there were cheerful and friendly. It was good to know that even if we couldn’t easily get off the Hill, the Red Apple was here, though they did have shortages of some items.

I am hoping that Sound Transit does whatever possible to make the light rail run in cold and snow. I have been told that the snow isn’t a terrible problem, but the cold is, and that frozen switches could be an issue. If the light rail does work in situations like we’ve just had, it will be a great boon to us on Beacon Hill once the light rail opens.

6 thoughts on “It’s melting!”

  1. :-( Is this Seattle? Might be selective memory, but I don’t recall snow lasting for this long of a stretch in Seattle! I seem to think the amount of snow was somewhat similar to the snow from 1990/91 when we had about 9″ on our hill the first day, took 7 hours to get home from the eastside, having to walk the last mile after leaving my car by PacMed. But I don’t remember it lasting this long – and we had probably over a foot of snow this year.

    Pretty on the first day, ugly after it’s muddied up, treacherous after being compacted and frozen a few times over. I admit it, I’m a snow weenie and thank goodness for being able to work from home rather than have to try to maneuver around the hills and ice and abandoned cars.

  2. The wife and I really enjoyed it for the first couple of day, but slowly started getting cabin fever by the end. Having a newborn daughter, only added to the general sense of being stuck in an emotional pressure cooker. We ended up having to cancel a doctors appointment for her, and miss to Christmas parties, so that was a bit of a bummer. In addition, I had to do all our X-mas shopping on the Wednesday before X-mas, so that was a bit tricky. But, just having my parents, brother and sis-in-law come over to our place on Christmas Eve was nice a relaxing.

    All in all, it was an experience. Not a bad one, but also one I’m glad is over.

  3. So what would you have wanted the city do differently in this situation? I got sick of my snow blanketed side street, especially when the snow became slush, but I recognized that this was an exceptional bit of weather. I wouldn’t expect the city to have been equipped to handle it fully. I saw it more as a case when neighbors have to put forth some extra effort themselves to make things happen. (Like the ones who ferried that ailing cat to the vet.)

  4. I am not sure what the best solution is. I think the light rail itself is going to be part of the solution in future years. I am not sure where I fall on the salt/no salt spectrum; I remember as a child and teen, when Seattle still used salt, that it managed to clear the streets quite well, but there are the environmental effects to consider.

    The circumstances the last few weeks weren’t really much of a solution at all. Our bus-based transit didn’t help, either. Buses don’t deal particularly well with icy hills. Articulated buses, even less so. (I wonder if double-decker buses are more or less safe in that regard.)

  5. Tyler said: “Might be selective memory, but I don’t recall snow lasting for this long of a stretch in Seattle! I seem to think the amount of snow was somewhat similar to the snow from 1990/91 when we had about 9″ on our hill the first day, took 7 hours to get home from the eastside, having to walk the last mile after leaving my car by PacMed. But I don’t remember it lasting this long – and we had probably over a foot of snow this year.”

    In the December 1990 storm, the snow fell on December 18, and was still on the ground on Christmas Day (I had to have someone pick me up on Queen Anne Hill for Christmas Day festivities because it wasn’t yet fully drivable in my car). However, it was melting on Christmas and by the end of that day there was much less snow. So it wasn’t that much less than what we had this year, really.

    On the day of that snowstorm, I was working in Pioneer Square. They let us out of work around 3, and some of us managed to catch a bus up to Westlake via the bus tunnel. Then we ate dinner and did Christmas shopping, fully expecting to catch a bus to Queen Anne afterwards. We came out and waited. And waited, in the blowing snow. Bus after bus drove by, all full, none stopping. So we finally started walking, from the bus stop on 3rd Avenue just south of the Bon.

    By this point there were blizzard conditions. One of my friends opened an umbrella and the wind started blowing him across the street, his feet sliding on the ice like ice skates. We were only able to get as far as the Westin before we couldn’t take any more, and went inside the bar for some hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps.

    After a bit the winds died down and we started walking again. We walked through Seattle Center, where the snow was already very deep. We ended up at Dick’s. There was a woman lying on the floor inside Dick’s. Her leg was broken. She slipped on the ice and broke it. The Dick’s folks tried to make her comfortable while waiting for an aid car, but the aid car was apparently having trouble reaching us or was otherwise occupied. She was not happy, to say the least. We ate a late snack and tried to work up the courage to tackle the Counterbalance.

    Then we started up the Counterbalance. At this point the wind came back and it was all we could to to keep upright. The sidewalk was icy. It was scary to think of falling down under those circumstances.

    Eventually we made it up to the top of the hill. I got into my house at 14th and Crockett after 1 am.

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