Despite extensive publicity about its snow readiness, the Seattle Department of Transportation was caught unprepared by the first blast of January snow Sunday morning, when cars spun out on Boren Avenue.
The confusion was captured on this humorous YouTube video, titled “Seattle Drivers in Two Inches of Snow.” It was shot on a steep slope near University Avenue and Boren. The street runs past Virginia Mason Medical Center and is a route to Swedish and Harborview medical centers, so a clear path is crucial for emergency services.
The city had issued a press release a couple days before, saying maintenance crews were “on standby for snow response” and have been treating areas prone to frost and ice.
Asked about the slippery slope, street maintenance director Steve Pratt said Tuesday that there were only 10 snow-response trucks on duty late Sunday morning. A sudden squall hit at about 10:30 a.m. The city was focused mainly on the north end based on the weather forecast, Pratt said, but snow fell heaviest in West and central Seattle.
Most Read Local Stories
- These 3 Seattle scientists study the coronavirus. Now they're getting millions to chase their 'wildest scientific ideas'
- Missing Lummi Nation woman found alive, aunt says
- Washington state analyzed two COVID scenarios for fall. One is much worse than the other
- Wondering why society went off-kilter during the pandemic? It was all predicted in this book
- Lummi Nation woman disappeared during Las Vegas trip with fiancé and friends, now found alive
There wasn’t enough rock salt on Boren to melt the falling snow, he said.
“We weren’t prepared with enough material, to put it bluntly.” Within a couple hours, Pratt said, there were 20 to 30 trucks on the streets citywide.
Also Sunday, transit buses slid on the freeway ramp that descends from northbound I-5 to Sodo at Spokane Street. Pratt says about 15 buses spun out citywide Sunday.
He said 30 trucks will be at the ready, including a front-end loader to scoop snow from Highway 99 at Sodo, before the commute begins in expected heavier snow Wednesday morning.
Times reporter Susan Kelleher contributed to this post.