So to summarize the storm so far-
It started out as way over hype. The Seattle schools started late Monday and Tuesday last week, and then were entirely canceled Wednesday. It didn’t snow Wednesday, pretty much at all. Very wacky, although typical.
Then Thursday it did snow for real. Not real by the standards of any place that gets real snow like Minneapolis or Ithaca, but Seattle just doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle snow, plus it has lots of hills (a characteristic in common with Ithaca). So 3″ is pretty much enough to shut down the city and it was not a surprise when school was canceled Friday too, effectively starting winter break 3 days early.
Now, at first this snow stuff is pretty fun. Stay inside, do some sledding in the streets, and walk everywhere without driving. Not that the amount of snow would be that much of a barrier to driving normally (both of our cars are AWD and I’ve got a reasonable amount of experience with snow driving) but the other drivers around here scare the hell out of me. There are actually a few that have a clue, but the rest tend to be folks driving really inappropriate vehicles with no snow driving skills, or people who assume that because they are driving a 4WD they can cruise along at normal speeds on icy roads .
The former group can be pretty funny sometimes. We saw a woman putting chains on the back tires of her Civic. I could be wrong but I’ve never heard of a Civic with rear wheel drive, and we tried to gently point out she might be doing the wrong tires but she was sure she had it right. Much more common are folks without chains and with cars really not meant for snow driving (think Prius). Typical behavior is getting stuck on an up-hill, and then gunning the engine, spinning the wheels, polishing the surface of the road into a nice glass-like ice. Fun.
Then on Friday the big deal was the “Mega Wind-Storm” that was supposed to hit the area Saturday night / Sunday morning. Huge headlines across all of the papers, you couldn’t watch a local news broadcast without tons of dramatic music and all that. Now, we have had some serious wind-storms before with most of the cities power being out for days, massive flooding, etc, so people had good reason to be a bit worried about the reports.
However, in this case I checked out the aviation reports (see my previous post) and the strange thing is I couldn’t really see anything that looked like a wind-storm. So to put it mildly, I was somewhat skeptical of the hype.
How did it turn out? I’m going to claim that I was at least half right. In the city we had basically nothing- maybe 20mph winds for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. However there was a dramatic difference between the winds at the surface and those 2000′ up, and apparently some of the foothills communities did get some high winds, including an unofficial report of a gust to 100mph nearby. So there were high winds, but I’m still going to claim that the press was irresponsible in not reporting the story in a way that made it clear that this was not going to impact 95% of the population of the area.
One last thought- now that its pushing a week of snow in the Seattle area, its getting a little old. Its probably hard to understand when you live in a place like Minneapolis or Ithaca where it snows in the fall, and pretty much stays around until April or later, but we just don’t have any infrastructure to deal with it. The plow some of the major roads, but not very frequently and they don’t even try to get them clear. They pile some snow in the middle of the road but the lane you drive on ends up having plenty of ice and snow anyway plus with only 1 real lane you get aggressive drivers trying to pass you in wacky ways if you are driving carefully. So it really becomes pretty hard to do any necessary errands which is cute for a day or two but gets old after a week. To be honest, I don’t blame the city for this- we don’t typically get weather like this, just a day or two, so its is pretty rare and it probably wouldn’t make sense to prepare for such rare events. After all, one of the nice things about Seattle is that you can visit snow nearby, but you (typically) don’t have to live with it every day.