With the possibility of 2-4 inches of snow to hit the Seattle metro area Thursday night, we look back at our less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to the white stuff.
Looking for some wintry weather entertainment for Thursday night’s snowy weather?
Take a peek out of your window.
This city, with its glacier-cut hills and Byzantine street system, has developed a rather unimpressive reputation when it comes to snow. In 2012, traffic became so badly snarled that the Los Angeles Times — yes, from sunny Southern California – called us “snow wimps” in a headline and said the city “always marched unarmed into its infrequent battles with snow.”
Sandy beaches aren’t the best place to ride a high horse, but you have to admit the Californians might have a point:
Our feeble storm response has a long-earned reputation. Something always seems to happen.
In 2010, commuters spent a cold overnight on southbound Interstate 5 after jack-knifed semi, a bus and other vehicles crashed near Boeing field in wintry conditions.
“It looked like a scene out of any apocalypse movie, where the people abandon their cars on the clogged freeways as they escape,” wrote a Seattle Times producer who spent nearly 10 hours getting from Seattle to Tacoma.
In 2008, an icy slide down Capitol Hill streets left two charter buses dangling precariously over Interstate 5.
The city’s response to December snowstorms that year became political fodder after Mayor Greg Nickels’ administration refused to use salt on roadways and outfitted snowplows with rubber blades, as opposed to metal. Meanwhile, icy roads paralyzed Seattle for about two weeks.
A Times investigation showed the city’s response was mired in confusion, and that West Seattle, the home of prominent city officials, received inordinate response from street crews. Nickels was cast out of office the following year.
Perhaps the worst of Seattle’s snow came 100 years ago, in 1916, when 38 inches blanketed the city in February. The streetcar system was out of commission for days, and it took 800 men to dig out the streets. Under the weight of at least 30,000 pounds of wet snow, the St. James Cathedral dome collapsed. Luckily, no one was at church at the time.
Even in 1916 and with 38 inches of snow, people found time to enjoy it.
Despite fear of record floods, Seattle folk turned out to watch “10 masters of the skiing art” take jumps from a ramp on Queen Anne Hill. A shipping agent for a Norwegian company completed the longest jump of 43 feet.
Here are some more videos of Western Washington snow days: