The snowpocalypse is nigh!

Seattle’s weather report for the weekend:

The system will develop into spotty snow showers down at sea level Sunday into Monday. Depending on where you are, accumulations could be anywhere from a trace to several inches.




…The sad thing is, I’m not joking about the chaos. If an inch of snow falls, the city will shut down completely. The streets will be as deserted as a zombie apocalypse. Optimistic/idiotic drivers will hilariously fail at driving* or buses will stop running all together. UW will call a snow day (and some professors will still expect their graduate students to brave the roads to come work). Liquor stores will close.

I begrudgingly admit that this is understandable considering the steep hills, lack of snow plows, and temperatures that turn the roads to ice…but it still makes this Midwesterner giggle with glee.

*This was way more hilarious before I realized that’s the bus I now take to and form work every day. Gulp.


  1. says

    May I suggest Hornady Zombie Max ammo? :)

    And to think, my wife and I basically flipped a coin to choose Richmond over Seattle a few months ago. I have to carry a gun to walk the dog, but at least I don’t need snow boots. Lucky us?

  2. Brian says

    Likewise for me, that video was way more hilarious before I realized that it took place a block away from where I live.

    (To be fair, that sort of thing will only happen at the high end of the predicted snowfall. One or two inches will affect us, but it won’t be total chaos.)

  3. sandiseattle says

    to be fair, we don’t deal with the snow often, and the flip side of that is that we usually don’t have to deal with it for long periods. Mind you I do think we need to send the kids to a snowbound state at some point during Drivers Ed. (temper that with the fact I depended on the Metro bus til I was 25 and learned to drive in Idaho.)

  4. Doris says

    Seattle..1984..December…snow flurries predicted..what we got was 18 inches of snow in 6 hours.
    Cars left on both floating bridges and people just walked home. Everything came to a standstill. Even the police and ambulances found it extremely difficult to get around. School was called off for a few days, but only because Winter break was just about to begin. I did all the Christmas shopping for my mom and dad…they couldn’t get out in their car and I had no problem braving the roads…My front wheel minivan was a champ. Cue to the roads clearing up…idiots with chains on driving on bare pavement. It was quite a mess, to say the least!

  5. rcs says

    Maybe you haven’t lived here long enough to realize that a weather report published on Tuesday usually has little correlation of what the weather conditions actually will be by the weekend. They’re more like horoscopes – for entertainment purposes only.

  6. E.A. Blair says

    Many, many years ago, I took drivers’ education in preparation for getting my drivers’ license. The classroom portion started in late October and continued until winter break. After winter break, the behind the wheel lessons began. On the morning I reported for my first session behind the wheel of a real car, seven inches of snow had fallen overnight – it was a mild Milwaukee winter day. My first task was to head east towards Lake Park, and the instructor told me to drive down a nameless road that wound down to the Lake Michigan shore and was known locally as “snake hill”. This was with less than ten minutes of actual driving experience. I now laugh at people who are paralyzed with fear at the notion of a mere inch or two of white stuff on the ground. I’ve lived in Milwaukee, Chicago and Minnesota and have dealt with snowfalls measured in feet. To paraphrase Monty Python, if a snowfall doesn’t exceed six inches, I fart in its general direction (and I wave my private parts that the aunties of anyone who can’t deal with a little snow).

  7. Charlie says

    I live in south-central Pennsylvania. When we get news of impending snow, everyone runs to the store for milk, bread, and eggs. For some reason, the people in this area hear “snow” and get the jones for French toast.

  8. scubachick says

    Maybe these days UW will shut down because of snow, but that didn’t used to be. I recall winters of 2006 and 2007 particularly because it was incredibly snowy and icy, even in the low-lying part of the city where UW is. Two days in a row I slipped and badly bruised my left hip because I had to go to stupid class and I’m clearly not over it even now.

  9. rcs says

    I remember that. I lived near the top of Capitol Hill at the time. By the time I needed to drive somewhere everything had turned to ice and getting down off the hill was one of the most hellish driving experiences of my life. IIRC, at the time the city only owned 3 snowplows and they had to bring more down from Snoqualmie Pass to dig the city out.

  10. Hatchetfish says

    As an Oregonian, I have to make one point: it’s the sheet ice, and the potential for it to form in minutes if it starts freezing rain in the right conditions, that keeps (sane) people home. We’re not talking about compacted snow and frozen slush ‘ice’ that most places see. We mean clear, glassy, slicker than snot, ice-rink ice that can cover every outdoor surface a quarter inch thick in fifteen minutes. Studded tires do next to nothing, chains barely work. Most of those people in the videos thought they could manage it because they have studded tires. (Although as that level of poor judgment would correlate with, they are also lousy drivers. The competent know better than to try.)

  11. MCJB says

    Well at least it takes until the snow to fall for the city to shut down. Where I live in middle of nowhere tennessee they just have to call for snow and all of the eggs, milk, and bread are gone by the end of the day and the salt trucks have run at least 4 times. Then we get less than half an inch and the town shuts down for around 2 days. lol

  12. michaeld says

    Maybe you could take a hint from Toronto and have Obama send in the army to clear the snow? Poor little west coasters can’t stand a little snow :P

  13. says

    Back home in southwestern Indiana people would make a mad dash for the grocery store and school would be canceled at even the slightest threat of snow, which would actually accumulate maybe once each winter. Is it significantly different further north? Even in… uh… the town just south of Indianapolis where I went to college the weather wasn’t remarkably different, but people didn’t panic.

    My favorite Indiana winter weirdness, though, is how since everything is built out of or on top of limestone no one can put salt down without dissolving all of hoosier civilization.

  14. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I grew up in central Wisconsin. Several inches of snow means the folks who park their cars outside have to get up ten minutes earlier to brush the snow off their windows.

  15. StJason says

    I snicker at Midwesterners who try and deal with PNW snow.

    A few years back, I had a neighbor who moved here from Denver. Her first winter here, she laughed when the city shut down over a half-inch of snow. That night it snowed again. She drove off to the store and flipped her jeep.

    PNW doesn’t get cold like the midwest. The snow here is just a degree or two below freezing. That means it melts a little when you drive on it. Wet, compressed ice under your tires…

    Gimmie three feet of powder any day. Two inches of wet, heavy snow is worse.

  16. CanadianChick says

    People who have never driven in Wet Coast snow will never understand.

    That “inch” of snow is a quarter inch of ice, topped with a half inch of slippery slush, dusted with a quarter inch of “snow”. Add to that the hills, the huge costs associated with being fully snow-ready in a place that gets almost no snow and the legions of transplanted Easterners who think driving in Vancouver snow is the same as driving in Toronto snow and yeah, thanks, I’ll stay off the roads (even though I live in a totally flat area).

    Don’t worry – I’ll send everyone who laughs at the news footage lawn clippings and Victoria’s blossom count numbers in early March.

  17. says

    At least Washington will salt the roads. Portland won’t, because they’re worried about the salmon, so we’re stuck with icy slush even longer. So, two days instead of one.


  18. Trebuchet says

    Channel 4 seems to disagree. I’ll put my trust in Steve.

    At least if it starts snowing on the weekend most of the idiots will just stay home on Monday. It’s much worse when it starts in the middle of the day and they have to get home.

  19. Passerby says

    I remember those winters when I was stationed at Ft. Lewis. I was talking with our CW2 in the motor pool, and he commented on how post would close down if we got over an inch. I laughed, figuring that he was kidding.

    He wasn’t kidding.

    Weird thing is, I’ve seen it get up to 4-6 inches at Ft. Riley and still be ‘Amber’ road condition, and during my first winter in South Korea we were doing Field Exercises in below freezing weather. I suppose it all depends on where you are stationed, but it always seemed weird to me.

    And before we get into the ‘It’s not like the midwest’: It ices over in the midwest. It ices over often. I’ve seen my share of cars and trucks stuck in ditches because of icy road conditions. So, yes, it is like the midwest. And yes, the ‘slush rain’ is the worst kind of weather. In Kansas, it leaves this thin coat of ice over the trees that makes them look like they were encased in glass. Pretty, but obnoxious to move around in.

  20. fastlane says

    The good news is, I’m in Everett.

    The bad news is, starting next monday, I’ll be commuting all the way to Renton for a two week class.

    I can drive in snow/ice ok, since I’ve lived in the midwest for so long. Then again, KS didn’t have so much as a small hill…..

  21. freemage says

    Passerby: As a Chicagoan, I will agree with the West Coasters that the hills make a big difference, above and beyond the ice (the notion that we’re unfamiliar with icy roads amused me–sorry, folks, but I was going to school when there was a quarter- to a half-inch of frozen rain. On EVERYTHING. Looked like some kind of fairy story, until you realized that doing anything but glide-stepping very slowly was going to break your tailbone).

    That said, my sympathy dips when I hear about the city being ‘unprepared for snow’. There’s GOT to be a way to manage that that doesn’t result in a complete waste of money. (Salt hoppers that can be attached to snow-ready vehicles work well if you don’t want to spend the money on full-blown salt-spreaders.)

  22. KD says

    As a Canadian I can totally relate…because the same thing happens up here in Vancouver BC. The funniest thing is when people with out of province licence plates end up sliding down the hills.

  23. Chris says

    Some facts that are missed:

    Seattle, and the rest of the state of Washington are at the same latitude as France. The part west of the mountains have a maritime climate, which means warmer and wetter.

    Seattle has these things called “hills.” I have a very dear friend who learned to drive a stick shift in Wichita, KS… but ended up going backwards down James Street when she tried to go forward at the red light. For an explanation: that street was next to the former Seattle city hall. You would enter the “1st floor” on Fourth Avenue, and then take the elevator to the “5th floor” on Fifth Avenue.

    Some of us know which buildings have handy escalators and elevators available to the public to avoid walking up hills (that usually have stair like bumps to make it easier). Oh, and sometimes you will find a street will actually turn into a stairway (and it has a street name).

  24. says

    I grew up near Lake Michigan, so we got terrible lake effect snow. Blizzards all the time. School was only canceled if power lines went down, even if 2 feet had fallen.

    The snow wasn’t as heavy at Purdue, but it was pretty regular and the ice was terrible.

  25. canadianchick says

    Yeah, walking would work if anybody ever shoveled the damn sidewalks…but because the snow will be gone from the roads the day after it falls, no one bothers. Sidewalks, on the other hand, will be treacherous with compacted AND black ice. And don’t suggest walking on the roads either…unless you want to get run over by the crazy freakin’ cyclists…

  26. gworroll says

    Not much snow, but ice on those hills?

    That would be bad. I don’t deal with it much, being in coastal CT. We get snow and ice(most winters anyways. This year has had so little snow that I’m kinda worried), but it’s fairly flat here.

    Get into the northwest of the state, and we get into the foothills of the Appalachians. A couple actual mountains in that area. Winter driving in that area is an experience I’d rather not repeat. Massive detours for what should have been 30 seconds, sliding down hills, quarter mile walks in below freezing because your car simply cannot get up the hill…

    If that hill is typical of Seattle, yeah, you’re in for a world of hurt if the roads ice over.

  27. NickS says


    We had sort of the same in Christchurch with the two big dumps, only all the earthquake liquifaction and roading fill everywhere out east made it slightly less dangerous. At least till it got semi-slushy.

    Still, you don’t drive in those conditions unless you have chains and the last thing you do is lock up the brakes when you start sliding or spin the wheels like crazy as you’ll utterly lose any traction you had. /physics101

  28. says

    Same up here in Vancouver, except for Langley where, even if the snow is enough that the first period classes will be half full and a mass exodus will result afterwards from the students who don’t need rides because first period has made it apparent that nothing will be done that day, the public schools will still be open.

    Of course, Langley city council and school board are insanely privileged. Their approach to developing is to let the developers go wherever and then whinge on about the transit authority and not wanting to raise taxes when the new residents want some infrastructure to go with their new houses; their approach to schools seems to be something along the lines of throwing out enrollment numbers to justify shuttering schools (or converting one — and only one — high school into a middle school despite it being near capacity and the other high schools being at or near capacity as well) and then mumbling about how it’s a ‘long and involved process’ to shut down a school when election time rolls around and the non-incumbent candidates are raising hell about the mismanagement of the system. Their approach to sex education, furthermore, consists of hiring a crisis pregnancy center worker to go around giving totally not religious indoctrination to the high school students about how other methods kindasorta work but they don’t really and can be bad for you but abstinence works! always!! and besides girls you don’t want to be sluts now do you!!!!!

  29. Rawnaeris says

    Yeah, North Texas has been lucky this year. We haven’t had our usual ice storms yet.

    At least with snow, physics still behaves normally. There is still some friction between you and the road. Just don’t over-correct or make any sudden moves.

    When we get 3-4 inches of solid ice, normal everyday friction says ‘Adios.’ Good luck going, stopping, or doing anything else in a vehicle.

    So, Seattle, I don’t blame you for shutting down over ice. We do the same.

  30. ShavenYak says

    Here in Alabama, when it might snow, everyone runs to the store and buys all the milk and bread. The snow has roads closed for one or two days, tops, and most people don’t lose electricity so they are not forced to resort to eating milk sandwiches. So a couple weeks later, people who don’t ordinarily eat bread or drink milk, but felt that they *had* to have these items in case of snowpocalypse, are throwing away huge quantities of moldy bread and sour milk.

    I usually stock up on beer and Pop-Tarts when snow is predicted. No one else is going after them, and they will last forever whether or not electricity is ever restored.

  31. witless chum says

    Check out Houghton/Hancock, Michigan near where I grew up. Both cities occupy opposing hillsides overlooking the Portage ship canal, so you’ve got two small cities with roads at Seattle-like angles and where 150 inches of snow in a winter is the lightest in the last 10 years. (303 inches was the high.)

    If you look close on the map, you can see that they actually built roofs over some of the downtown cross streets back in the 70s.

    Lower Michigan, where I live now can get the entire gamut from for real blizzards-we got about a foot and a half overnight one time last year-to storms that cover everything in half an inch of ice.

  32. Kevin says

    Yeah, as a Mainer, snow usually isn’t the problem. It’s the ice that’s the problem. We didn’t even get the worst of that one.

  33. Kevin says

    Snowshoes. Or, if it is less than a 6 inches or so, just get yourself a good set of gaiters and some cheap crampons.

  34. Yellow Thursday says

    Here in MinneSNOWta, we’ve had a very mild winter. Usually we have at least a foot of snow by this time of year. Today we’re getting our first real accumulation of the year – we might get 3″. Woop-de-doo.

  35. says

    As an ex-Albertan transplanted to the Wet Coast, I have to say, you got it right. I’ve driven in rural areas in blizzards in Alberta that engendered less fear in me than 25mm of snow in Victoria does. I think that a couple of inches of snow causing the city to take a snow day is a perfectly good idea. In Cadboro Bay, I’ve seen people cross country skiing up to Starbucks after a good snowfall has shut the city down. Of course, after living on a farm for so long, I’m much more understanding of weather dictating to me rather than the reverse.

  36. Trebuchet says

    The four “too-muches” of driving in Puget Sound snow:
    Too much throttle.
    Too much brake.
    Too much steering.
    Too much speed.

    Probably should add a fifth: Too much confidence! Just because you’ve got 4WD doesn’t mean you can stop or steer better. And you’re likely to be tall and tippy. I’ve been passed by more than one Jeep in the winter only to see it on its roof a few miles down the road.

  37. says

    I’ve lived in this area my whole life, mostly on the eastside and a bit of time in portland. Portland is the worst when the ice storms hit. Roads are a joke and trees explode.

    The biggest problem in seattle and the eastside isn’t the big roads, it’s everything else. As long as the snow if fresh, it’s drivable. Shortly afterwards, it’s just not worth the day.

    It’s like wind storms here. If it actually gets up to 70mph winds, that means its crazy. OK 70 mph winds have a straight shot, seattle winds have a cascade, sound, and seattle hills to deal with…

    Best thing ever? Any video regarding queen anne hill…

  38. Beatrice Birts says

    Thanks a lot for posting such an exciting information about plymouth fury which is for sale of used and cheap pre-owned plymouth. I also appreciate the useful information about features..

Leave a Reply