Lies, lies I tell you!

First I’m told Seattle is a godless paradise, and I receive religious spam at my apartment the first day. Then I’m told it basically never snows, and now this?!

Very clever ploy to get me to move here, Seattlites.

Though everyone has told me when it does snow, people here flip out. After a couple of minutes standing at my bus stop, I can confirm this. This Midwesterner will continue to laugh at drivers spinning out in a half inch of snow.

…As long as the bus actually ends up coming, and gets me to school in one piece.


  1. Rbray18 says

    yeah,oklahoma is fun too,we never get straight snow here,we always get freezing rain then snow,and everyone native or not drives like a idiot when that happens,they do it durning rain too,they think bad weather=permission to drive faster o_O

  2. Inthane says

    I’ve lived here all my life, and I have family history going back to the early 1900s. When I was a kid growing up (70s) there was regularly enough snow during the winter to go sledding, but in the 80s it stopped snowing so much. Now we’re starting to get these weird “blasts” where it just comes in, craps on the city, and then goes away.I asked my grandfather what the weather used to be like during the 40s and the 50s, and he said that there was 1-2 feet of snow on the ground 1-2 months out of the year. Weather in Seattle is a constantly evolving thing…

  3. says

    Your neighbors-to-the-north here in Vancouver are equally surprised; trust me. Living in Vancouver for a good 6 or 7 years now has gained me an expectation of no snow in November, let alone the rest of the year.. for the record I believe we had precisely four days of snow last year. Four. And now what’s this? Snow? In -my- Vancouver? IN NOVEMBER?Blasphemy.

  4. NotNormal says

    Meh, I lived there for three years while I was in the Army. It’ll snow a couple times a year and stick for about a week. Admittedly, this is a bit early for snow in my limited experience in the area.

  5. Uncle Bob says

    the real fun hasn’t started yet Jen. Tonight the melted snow is going to freeze over.I would highly recommend you not leave the house tomorrow. It won’t; be safe to walk on the sidewalk, let alone be on the street.

  6. Lance says

    Tomorrow will be the fun day. High of 27F, so there will be ice everywhere. If you want to be entertained head to Queen Anne just north of Seattle Center and watch people try to walk (much less drive) on the hills. Good times!

  7. Georgia Sam says

    Hey, you want to see people who can’t handle snow, come to DC. The funny thing is, we get a few inches of snow in a typical winter. It’s like people completely forget how to drive in it from one year to the next. And all the bread and milk disappears from store shelves within about 15 minutes of the first prediction of snow.

  8. says

    I”m a courier, so I am officially a professional driver. People in the Midwest freak out and forget how to drive for the first week it snows, but here in Seattle, man…they never learn. Some of them never learn how to drive in the rain, and it’s as if everybody thinks the right lane is the passing lane.All that being said, the hills do make a huge difference. But after a Christmas storm 2 years ago halted everything for a week, the powers-that-be listened to the populace, and will now actually put salt down, so the roads will probably be okay. The earth itself isn’t frozen through, so even with low temperatures, the snow will melt when cars drive on it.

  9. says

    People in the South are also pretty inept at driving in the rain, but they completely lose their shit when it snows. You’ll see cars off the road every few feet even when there’s only 1-2″ of snow. Everything comes to a grinding halt. Glad to know I’m not the only one who has to deal with the pleasure of this. :p

  10. Gus Snarp says

    Yeah, DC is bad. Norfolk too, where they don’t own enough plows and they put down sand instead of salt. Ugh. We had freezing temps there for a month after one snow, and many roads were ice covered the entire time. And I rode a bicycle, not a car. Walked to work for weeks. The first day I though it was safe to ride I hit an icy patch on a curve. Driving on icy roads = dangerous and difficult. Bicycling on icy roads = impossible.

  11. Gus Snarp says

    My theory is this: it doesn’t matter where you are, the majority of people don’t know how to drive in snow, because the majority of people don’t know how to drive, and because there really is no safe way to drive on ice except unbelievably slowly, which most are unwilling to do. The worst are actually the ones in 4 wheel drives who think they know what they are doing and that somehow they are safe from loss of traction. They don’t seem to understand that four wheel drive does not help you stop, nor that it is useless when all 4 wheels are on ice.

  12. says

    I lived on Queen Ann Hill for 9 months. Everyone said “It never snows in the city… just up in the hills”. But it snowed TWICE the February I was there. I could not live in Seattle again.

  13. Gus Snarp says

    How about a quiz, since we are all talking about how no one else knows how to drive in the snow/ice/rain, what do we think is the *right* way to drive in the snow/ice/rain?

  14. says

    the greater seattle area (1 millionish people) has as many snow plows as my former montana county of 8000 people does.

  15. says

    hehehehe, I know it’s the same in Vancouver (not surprising considering their proximity). It definitely makes the Albertan in me laugh quite a bit.I will give them that the snow is wetter (i.e partially melting) than throughout most of the Albertan winter, but it’s pretty much identical to the early fall and late spring snows, so they only get a small amount of sympathy for slipperyness. I do laugh when the airport is in dissaray because they have the yearly snowstorm… it isn’t like it doesn’t happen almost every year, you’d think that they might plan at least marginally for it.I am one of those weird people who loves snow. I really do miss it out here (I was quite delighted to wake up on Saturday to find snow). There is nothing like impromptu snowfights or engaging in some dangerous, tree-dodging tobogganing at a whim (or less dangerous straight down a clear hill tobogganing).

  16. says

    We have a similar reaction to snow in Virginia. My mom (who’s from upstate New York) was confused the first time she brought me to school in three inches of snow to find it closed.

  17. says

    Look on the brighter side: you don’t have to go over the pass! I went over Snoqualmie on Wednesday (west bound) in the snow, and came back Friday in the sun. I’m just really glad I didn’t wait a couple more days.

  18. Gus Snarp says

    Here are my rules:1. Don’t drive unless you have to. This applies even if you think it’s not much snow. Any snow or ice on the road reduces traction and makes things less safe.2. That said, evaluate road conditions before you head out. Find a nearby street that is a good indicator of the type of roads you’ll be on and see how well the plows are keeping it clear. Pay attention to small feeder roads too.3. Increase following distance. This applies to rain as well. Normal following distance should allow 2 seconds from the time the car in front of you passes an object to when you do. For rain this should be at least doubled, for snow and ice it should be even greater.4. Slow down. For rain this needn’t be much if you know the roads and visibility is good. The guy unexpectedly doing 30 on the interstate is as dangerous as the guy going 80, given relatively decent traction. For snow and ice you need to slow down more based on the conditions.5. No rapid changes is speed or direction. Don’t try to take off quickly or stop quickly. 6. Here’s the big secret – Try to time it so you never have to stop. If you’re approaching a red light from a distance, slow down early and slow down a lot so that it will turn green before you get there.7. Watch for people who can’t stop. Don’t assume that green light means you can just go and no one will be coming through the cross street.8. Then there’s all that stuff about skidding that I don’t know either really. Most of it fails unless you’re actually an expert at it. If I’m skidding while braking and I don’t have to stop immediately, I’ll stop braking until I’m under control. There’s that whole “turn the wheel in the direction of the skid” thing, I don’t think you often have time to make that kind of decision. Really, you want to avoid getting to this point first.

  19. Azkyroth says

    Better than Sacramento. 10 months of summer, and the freeways are divided between the 2% of people who think the “65” signs mean meters per second, 97% who think they mean kilometers per hour, and the handful of people who remain smarter than a turnip behind the wheel of a car and just want to get where we’re going. I don’t know what would happen here if there was ever snow buildup on the ground…

  20. matt says

    I’ve been here for about 5 years, and it’s usually like this. Snows and then it melts in a few days. In the meantime, enjoy watching these idiots try to drive in it. Then again, I’m from Omaha where there’s snow on the ground 3 months a year and they don’t drive all that much better.

  21. Ivo says

    I second Gus Snarp’s rules, very well said. As a mountain abiding Swiss, I’ve had snow most winters, and we actually learn most of this before we get our driving licence.

  22. Praedico says

    People are the same way in Britain about snow. Even though we’re at a pretty high latitude it hardly ever snows here; it just rains. So last year, we had fairly significant snowfall (and our first white christmas in thirty-odd years) and the whole country just ground to a bloody halt. We used up all the supplies of salt for clearing roads and I don’t think we even have any actual plows. It never usually gets deep enough to need them.Personally, I loved it, because I walk everywhere anyway :)

  23. says

    I agree that people can’t drive in most places, but there does seem to be a certain flavor of bad driving in the PNW. I like to describe it as “they’re all stoned”, for the Seattlites. For the Eastsiders, “they’re all S. Californians”, which I’ve learned is synonymous with asshole, if you ask Washingtonians.

  24. says

    I’m sorry to inform you, but the buses spin out, too. When I was living in Seattle a few years back, there was a “snow storm” (i.e. there was 6 inches of snow, at most), and I got stuck in my car in it, trying to get out of Kent. Fucking impossible, and one of the roads was actually blocked by a Seattle Metro bus that had fallen over on its side :-/

  25. Derek says

    Having lived here for 15 years I’ve concluded that it’s not just inexperience that causes the trouble during snow. I spent a long weekend driving around in Whistler a couple of years ago. Had no trouble at all in the Outback, hardly any loss of traction. Got back to Seattle, 1/2″ of snow had fallen and the car was sliding all over. Same driver, just spent days on snow, but Seattle was much more slippery.The hills certainly play a role. Steep hills are not your friend on snow or ice.The temperature plays a part too. In Seattle when there’s snow on the ground it’s usually above freezing and that snow is partially melted and very slippery. Not using salt, little use of grit and few snowploughs make everything tougher.Hardly anyone has winter tires.All those things combine to make for treacherous conditions with only a dusting on the ground.

  26. says

    QFT. frontwheel drive and stick are 100 times better than 4wheel automatic. I’m a pretty shitty driver, and I still never put my car in the ditch, even in really shitty conditions.Granted, the one time I got stuck on an freeway on ramp for a couple hours was because I didn’t have the guts to drive my low-riding car around a semi that decided this was the PERFECT location to try to put his chains on, but I still managed to get out of there once someone with higher clearance drove past and proved that i wasn’t going to sink my car in mud/snow. but that, too, required some ingenuity, since the road was slippery and tilted, so my car was driving sideways as much as forward at first. so we cleared some 2-3 meters of ground in front of the car to keep it from sliding sideways, and then it had enough momentum to actually get on the freeway :-p

  27. Gus Snarp says

    Sticks are better if you can drive it well, but on hills with anything less than a very experienced driver, not so good. Me, I love my stick shift in the snow, wouldn’t have it any other way.

  28. says

    Snowy days make me wonder if cars and buses are appropriate methods of transportation to get from point A to point B during the winter. Wouldn’t it be great if a car is designed to turn into a snowmobile when it is necessary?*thinking* *sigh* Unfortunately, in the US, the government is the one that regulates the automobile industry and owns the roads. It would take many years for an invention like that to be able to sold in the market. Don’t you hate it when government is always the obstacle whenever you are trying something new?

  29. Azkyroth says

    Unless they pronounce it “snowpluff” in the Commonwealth, it’s properly “snowplow” over there, too. >.>

  30. Yellow Hatguy says

    I know. Sure, there’s less snowfall, but I’ll take 2-4 inches of snow daily over constant icestorms.

  31. says

    true enough; in the past, people got around on wheels in summer, on sled in winter. you’d think someone would have thought of a sled/car hybrid by now…

  32. says

    People already thought of it, but our roads are owned by the government. A sled won’t work under the road which is salted after snow. Plus, there are safety regulations on cars.To change laws and regulations, you’ll have to pay lobbyists and politicians. Even that, it will take years.

  33. Vanessa says

    Woo, that’s the one thing Michigan drivers have down: snow driving! If there’s not snow on the ground, well we pretty much don’t know how to drive.

  34. says

    Yep. I’m not leaving the house till Wednesday. Well, except for snowball fights with my little brother. But I have no desire to drive in this at all. Did you hear about that bus that turned over at UW Tacoma?

  35. n0b0dy says

    But it’s important to remember that it rains about 2x a year in Southern California. That means unlike places where it rains all the time, oil slick builds up pretty heavily on the road. That loosens when it rains. So you’re really driving on a slick of oil, which is more like black ice than anything else. You’ll find that natives know how to drive on it just fine. It’s the folks who’ve moved in from elsewhere who think that Southern California rain will be like their rain who go speeding all over the place as though they’re going to get some traction ever who are the menaces.

  36. Screamer77 says

    Portland is even worse. It’s snowing now, and if it doesn’t stop soon, I don’t think I’ll be able to get out of the house tomorrow. :/

  37. Grumble F Kitty says

    They told me it stays cool in Seattle in the summer, too. I packed for a vacation with long pants and socks and tennis shoes, and brought a jacket. It was in the 80s the whole darned week we were there. *sigh*

  38. says

    Wow, we haven’t gotten any snow yet in southern Maine. Well, there was some spitting snow for about 1/2 an hour last week, but nothing stuck. This is the first year we are hoping for lots of snow. My boyfriend is offering snow blowing services. The more it snows, the more money he will make.

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