SDOT prepares for slippery streets & possibly snow

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is preparing for the possibility of snow and ice on city streets again tomorrow. The forecast, which outlines temperatures just above freezing overnight tonight, could bring up to one-half inch of wet snow and the possibility of an additional inch of snow Wednesday morning.

Seattle skyline/view from Kerry Park under cover of snow, November 22, 2010.

The city is taking extra precautions so as not to have a repeat last month’s snowpocalypse, which left many city streets icy and dangerous.

After 10 p.m. tonight SDOT crews will proactively apply salt brine in roadway areas where frost or black ice is prone to develop, especially on bridges and other elevated structures around the city.

Starting at 4 a.m. tomorrow morning (Wednesday), SDOT spreader trucks will be prepositioned throughout the city, ready to spread rock salt on major arterial streets (primary snow routes, Levels 1 and 2) for the morning commute if conditions warrant.

SDOT’s snow plan calls for plowing when there is more than one inch of snow accumulated on roadways, which is not part of the forecast at this time.

Despite the potential for snow, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass says the likelihood that we’ll see a repeat of the snow and severe ice that blasted us on Thanksgiving week is low. He writes on his blog:

This is a VERY, VERY different situation than November 22nd. You will not see a powerful arctic blast associated with strong high pressure in British Columbia and a major coastal low over SW Washington. Temperatures will be far more marginal. Far less icing potential. But there COULD be some interesting wrinkles….like a chance for Puget Sound Convergence Zone snow.

Cliff estimates that “where precipitation is heavy enough, some snow showers could reach the surface, but nothing substantial.”

If the Convergence Zone is stronger than forecast then more snow could hit the Puget Sound lowlands. However, forecast temperatures are predicted to peak near 40F on Wednesday. This looks marginal to me…only heavy precipitation and the cooling associated with it…something that is not predicted… could bring several inches of snow to Seattle.

We will continue to monitor the evolution of this event, but right now it does not look serious event near sea level. Eastern suburbs could get few inches. Not an icing situation during the day…

Read more on SDOT’s winter weather response plan and to view a map of snow routes here.

It’s a Thanksgiving snow plow miracle!

Update: 9:15 a.m.: Snow plows are still traveling Queen Anne hill, de-icing roads for the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving Queen Anne! I have some exciting turkey day news to report: Late last night, while sleepily putting the finishing touches on my pumpkin pie, I heard a strange noise coming from the street. At first I thought another car had attempted to drive up Queen Anne Avenue, despite the ice, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a large SDOT snow plow backing up the Counterbalance.

And by 8 a.m. this morning, the Counterbalance was relatively clear of the icy mess that has made it so dangerous to drive on these last few days (though there are still a few stranded cars that haven’t yet been retrieved).

For those of us who thought we might just be stuck on the hill for Thanksgiving, it’s a tiny miracle, courtesy of the folks over at SDOT!

In other Thanksgiving Day news, there has already been a little snow more snow in Queen Anne today. But the 30 degree temperature is expected to get as high as 40, and bring with it some rain.

If you’re busing to your Thanksgiving meals today, Metro is running on a Sunday schedule on snow routes today, and reduced weekday service tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for snow plows. Let us know what you’re thankful for in the comments below.

Pictures of Queen Anne’s snowpocalypse, day two

While only a few inches of snow fell on Queen Anne yesterday, it was enough to cover the Counterbalance, and many of the neighborhood’s other steep streets, in ice, and virtually prevent cars from going up and down the hill. Many of those that attempted to traverse the ice, turned the slopes into an icy, slippery bumper car arena (make sure to watch the videos).

This car was one of four in a five-car pile-up left overnight at Queen Anne Ave N and Ward St after sliding and crashing together late Monday night.

Today Queen Anne-ers wasted no time enjoying the ice before it melts off later today and tomorrow. Many neighbors have spent last night and today sledding down the hill, while weaving around the abandoned cars strewn across the road.

Sledders attempt to salvage the last of the ice on Queen Anne Ave N, swerving around the remaining cars that got stuck in the slippery mess Monday night.

As of 2 p.m. the Counterbalance was still closed to through traffic, however a few gutsy drivers have managed to move their cars off the hill by sliding down slowly and carefully.

And one tow truck managed to pick up one of the four cars that were still crunched together from the collision late last night (video here).

We’ll be posting a gallery of more Queen Anne snow fun (and chaos) pictures shortly. Have a pic or video you’d like to submit? Email us at, or post the link below.

Tuesday: snow turns to ice and cold

It’s day two of the Seattle weather that brought us snow-covered streets yesterday, and bumper cars on ice on Queen Anne Avenue last night. And though we have sunny skies today, colder temperatures have ensured that the icy roads remain.

Here are a few reminders for traversing the second-day ice:

  • King County Metro Transit is once again working snow routes. Linda Thielke with Metro says that more than a dozen bus routes have been canceled because of the driving conditions. Here is the link to check on changes. Metro warns:

    Buses will be crowded and significantly delayed, perhaps even worse than Monday due to the road conditions. If those conditions severely deteriorate overnight, Metro may have to cancel entire bus routes in the morning.

    Bus riders should check for the most current status of Metro service before traveling Tuesday. If you do not have internet access, call Metro’s Customer Information Center at (206) 553-3000. Due to the volume of calls, there could be a wait on the phone lines.

  • All Seattle public schools are closed today, and we can’t find a private school in Seattle on that’s open. All classes are cancelled at the University of Washington and only essential personnel should report to work.
  • According to the National Weather Service weather report, we’re going to stay cold and possibly frozen for a couple of days:

    Today…sunny. Breezy this morning. Highs in the 20s. North wind 15 to 25 mph easing to 10 to 15 mph by midday.

    Tonight…mostly clear. Lows 8 to 15. Variable wind to 10 mph.

    Wednesday…partly sunny. Highs near 30. South wind to 10 mph.

    Wednesday night…mostly cloudy. Lows in the 20s. South wind near 10 mph.

    Thanksgiving Day…rain likely…possibly beginning as snow in the morning. Highs in the mid 30s to lower 40s. South wind 10 to 15 mph.

    Thursday night…rain likely. Lows in the upper 30s.

  • Do you have a traffic report to share? Please post in comments…