They just ate Howard Schultz
February 10, 2019 6:16 AM   Subscribe

You would think Minnesota native Daniel Silvermint would be accustomed to these conditions, but there's something distinctly different about a blizzard in Seattle. (SLTwitter)
posted by drlith (134 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
One word: hills

I bet the stairs up Queen Anne are treacherous.
posted by sammyo at 6:27 AM on February 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

Meanwhile, in Portland, one of the first things to go was the kale.
posted by clawsoon at 6:39 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I like the two feet of snow picture.
posted by MtDewd at 6:57 AM on February 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

I find it highly suspicious that the LaCroix was basically untouched.
posted by ckape at 6:58 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’ve been having a good time in this Seattle snow up on Capitol Hill. There are so. Many. Penis. Snow sculptures in Cal Anderson park.

I am so glad I was finally able to move back up here.
posted by nikaspark at 7:26 AM on February 10, 2019 [11 favorites]

If -10 were a speed, people would be driving -10.

Cosigned, Minnesota

So far this month we've had temps in the -30s F and about two feet of snow (with more coming down right now). People are considering closing the bathroom window and not cooking out on the grill tonight.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:31 AM on February 10, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm not sure people in the PNW are necessarily worried about the cold per se; it's not significantly colder than on non-snow days. It's more the 1-cm layer of ice on the roads that's the problem. As soon as you get off the major streets, the roads are pretty slippery and the hills are pretty steep.

Also, people don't generally have snow tires.

Also, after last weekend's snowstorm I made a point of cooking hamburgers on the grill -- though I had to clear the snow off of it first.
posted by Slothrup at 7:38 AM on February 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

It feels ridiculous until your power goes out for the fourth time this winter, the expected fix time passes and they're still investigating the cause, and all the arterials around your house are covered in snow, and the street in front of your house just isn't going to get plowed so don't bother digging out your car. That was last week's little storm. So yes, I am kinda twitchy.
posted by wotsac at 7:40 AM on February 10, 2019 [11 favorites]

When I moved from Alberta to the balmy west coast nearly 2 decades ago there were a few things that caught my attention:
  • I don't drive but I did work in road construction and none of those roads would have met inspection in a place with 'real' winter. Corner radii that were too tight, crowning for drainage not snow removal, soft shoulders that obscured safe driving limits, dark aggregate that hid black ice, blind approaches & corners, inclines & driveways too steep to manage in snow without chains.
  • The roads really weren't made for snow & ice, even if the municipality had the equipment to service them there wasn't any way to actually make it happen
  • Something that took longer to notice - housing construction in the places I could afford to live was.... lacking. I get that you might not need central heat when it rarely freezes.... but single pane windows with poorly insulated roofs and drafts doors... these things are only ok when the weather is 'normal' and there's power for the baseboard heaters. High humidity, strong winds and no power means that freezing weather outside quickly begets unsafe conditions inside for a lot of rental properties. Mine included.
  • Also - living on an island, albeit a large one, meant that food was trucked, then shipped then trucked. There's a lot of logistical concerns there. Perishable foods quickly got hard to find in my first west coast winter storm as supply chains were broken before the snow came. High winds means the passenger ferries couldn't sail, but eventually neither could the commercial barges. And changing weather closed highways and mountain passes on the mainland.
I rode my bike in -40 weather in Edmonton but I could hardly sleep (and showered at the local pool) when it got near freezing in Victoria. Part weather, part geography, part just being poor.
posted by mce at 7:54 AM on February 10, 2019 [35 favorites]

I found his tweets hilarious. Even in Maine, there's a fair bit of panic shopping, as many have been through some lengthy snow and/or ice storms. This pops up with regularity.
Seattle store shelves
Nice photos
posted by theora55 at 8:08 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

mce's post is amazing, and part of why everything's still fairly shut down -- there's just no infrastructure to deal with this. (The joke in the posted Twitter thread about the one snowplow is 50% right. There are two snowplows for the city.)

Anyway, I nearly injured myself laughing at this yesterday, it is perfect in every way. I also went for a long walk in Centennial Park and watched the next band of snow sweep in, and it was magnificent -- everything looks different and ghostly and lovely. Also approximately every dog in Seattle was also at the park with me and one came over and said hi he was wearing a blue coat and I love him.

(I had to walk down a fairly steep hill to get there, but it was ok, because we haven't had the thaw part of a freeze-thaw in awhile, so there was some traction still. I have not tried venturing north of me, to Queen Anne, for reasons I think already well-outlined.)
posted by kalimac at 8:10 AM on February 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

A few winters ago, it was somewhere between 0°F and 0°C in VT, and a co-worker said, "It's so cold that the UPS drivers are wearing long pants!'
posted by MtDewd at 8:12 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

The grocery store rush does seem a bit silly, but I only didn't go shopping because everyone else was going. I mean it was partly because there was snow for a couple of days, so people probably put off shopping for the short term perishable stuff, since snow around her rarely lasts more than 3 days, but then it turned out there was another winter storm coming and a half a day window where the roads weren't going to be snowy and icy for maybe another 3 days to a week so everybody found it convenient to go grocery shopping all at once.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:14 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Portland is alleged to get a ton of snow, so people did a run on the celery at Whole Foods.
posted by gucci mane at 8:25 AM on February 10, 2019

People are laughing at Seattle for this but people have died and been severely injured as a result of ice.
We don't have the infrastructure for this.
posted by k8t at 8:25 AM on February 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

You can’t keep submitting the same chapter, Doug!
posted by ejs at 8:25 AM on February 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

Many years ago I was living in Baltimore when a massive storm came through that shut down the federal government for about a week. The city was unable to deal with 3 feet of snow in 24 hours, and of course all the grocery stores ran out of milk, bread, and toilet paper at least 8 hours before the first snowflake hit.

Me, I had recently moved from the PNW, and after a day or so of boredom, I pulled my cross-country skis out of storage, skiied to the local Giant, bought flour and yeast, and was able to make my own bread during the storm.

The city never got around to plowing my street: we had to wait until the snow melted.
posted by suelac at 8:27 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

@kalimac, Seattle has 39 plows and many more salt/saline spreading trucks, and a lack of trucks has never been our problem, in 2012 or 2008. The trucks have been out since before the snow started and you can even track their locations and street plowed status live here: Personally I think the response to this recent storm has been more then adequate, especially with Metro kicking their new Emergency Snow Network into gear to ensure there are still transit options for moving around and in-and-out of the city. Seattle has learned a lot about how to deal with snow in the last decade, and it's showing right now.
posted by bizwank at 8:34 AM on February 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

Are you from the chamber of commerce?
posted by pracowity at 8:40 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's not the snow, it's the lack of snow removal services. The city of Seattle has plows, but not enough, and the suburban towns and cities might have 1 each? Frankly I think folks were being pretty reasonable by using that window between storms to get their errands done.
posted by stowaway at 8:58 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

I measured 10 inches of snow on the patio table in my backyard here in Olympia yesterday morning. If the additional 8-12 inches Cliff Mass predicts for Tuesday-Wednesday actually happens ... well, it'll likely be a couple of weeks before I can get my car out (they never plow my cul-de-sac). Luckily, there's a bus stop about a mile away that can get me to downtown/grocery store/etc. (The distance to the stop is certainly walkable, but there are stretches with no sidewalks and little shoulder, so it's not exactly safe.)

The really scary thing, as mce indicates, is the combo of significant cold (we're at 18F this morning), construction not intended for such temperatures, and especially power outages. I'm really lucky to still have electricity; there are close to 9000 households within 10 miles of me, including what looks like the entire west side of town, who've been without power (and hence heat, in most cases) since Fri. night/Sat. morning. My luck could definitely run out in the next snowfall, though.

I mean, I lived in Minnesota for over 50 years, and I'm deeply accustomed to dealing with snow/cold. The obvious problem, as mentioned above, is the lack of infrastructure here for dealing with this, and of course it doesn't make sense to invest in such infrastructure when this kind of thing happens maybe once a decade.

Hope loquacious and everyone else in the Port Townsend/Port Angeles area is doing OK! (They're sitting at close to 2 feet of snow so far.)
posted by Kat Allison at 9:01 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

@ pracowity No, I'm from Seattle, and I have a very good memory and am not prone to hysterics or hyperbole (and as such, do not "Tweet"). At this moment I can see traffic moving quickly on I5 as well as several completely clear major arterial streets, and in my travels around the city these last 48 hours saw much more of the same. Not every street is plowed and passable, but not every street is supposed to be (nor is it realistic to expect that). This is in sharp contrast to the conditions in 2008, where salt wasn't used and they thought they could just pack the snow down and spread sand on top of it to make passable roads, and still better then the conditions in 2010/2012 (though every storm provides unique challenges and timelines in which to meet them). In no way am I suggesting that Seattle is perfect, but the city had a plan and so far they seem to be executing it fairly well, at least from what I've observed South of the ship canal.

@stowaway: Cite for what the "enough" number of plows is for a city as hilly as ours that rarely sees any significant snowfall? Consider that we have to pay to maintain our existing fleet of plows even when they aren't being used, which is almost all of the time.
posted by bizwank at 9:07 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

The grocery run is by people who live on steep streets that won’t be plowed and may be covered in ice for a week. Seattle’s snow strategy for side streets is “let it melt”, and we’re seeing what happens when that takes a long time. I think people are actually learning not to attempt driving in this stuff, which is a good thing.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

Even here in Indiana, where snow is a normal thing this time of year, people go absolutely insane at the first announcement of a coming snow, no matter the predicted intensity. All the grocery stores are invaded and the shelves are immediately stripped of three things...flour, milk, and sugar. Then the hamburger goes. Then cheap canned soups. It's as if all these people don't expect to see civilization for the next month or something.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2019

Yeah, upon reflection I should not have made my earlier joke. In my mind, it was more of an "I hear you, fellow Minnesotan" than a "you other folks are wimps". Sorry about that, folks. I know that you're not set up to deal with this sort of weather, and I hope you all get through the storm okay.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:14 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Counterpoint (SLFB).

I live two blocks from a street that does get (and has been getting) plowed, but those two blocks are covered in a sheet of ice, and there's a fairly steep slope on the second block. Is it worth it for me to chain up the car to get out to the arterial? I think if I lived farther from a plowed road, I might be more inclined to do it, but as it is, it feels kind of stupid. And I went to Costco right before last week's snow, so I don't really need anything. As long as the buses are running, I can make it to work, except that work was closed for two and a half days this week and it's looking like it'll probably be closed for a couple days this coming week, too.

More directly related to the post, I was happy to see the author express his deep regret for calling I-5 "the 5" earlier in the thread. I think native and long-time Seattleites can laugh along at ourselves for our historically bad snow response, but using the California highway names gets right up our snoot.
posted by hades at 9:25 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Meanwhile Portland is fucking zero snow and blue skies WTF weather I stocked up on all this kale for nothing!!!!
posted by weed donkey at 9:26 AM on February 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

What I loved most about this tweetstorm is how nicely it skewers the personality of Seattle. The craft brews, the runs on fresh veggies, the crucible of Queen Anne. It was hilarious, and so true.
posted by lhauser at 9:27 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Gray Duck, I LOL'd. :) Honestly, though, even when I lived in MN, I never really felt like I had any innate super-toughness; rather, at least for me, there was a hardening-off process that had to be repeated every year, running from early Nov. to mid-Dec., which was really just a matter of learning over and over again to ignore the "Pain! Suffering!" signals one's body is sending. Despite all my years of Minnesota conditioning, going straight from what had been an extra-mild Pacific NW winter into sub-20s has left me cranky as fuck and feeling much put-upon, whereas the same temps on Feb. 10 twelve years ago would have been utterly ordinary.

(And also, yes, I loved the tweets--thanks for posting, drlith.)
posted by Kat Allison at 9:29 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

It’s like rain that won’t leave. So awkward.
posted by traveler_ at 9:30 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

What’s the prospect for the PNW in terms of climate change? Will they get more or less snow? I kinda feel like it couldn’t hurt to have a couple more salt trucks in the city’s pocket, even if they don’t get used every year.

As for Minnesota, we can’t really talk since we have about 842 fender benders every time it snows. I had two commutes last week that went over 2 hours in one direction, then decided to work from home (I’m fortunate to have a job where that’s an option; lots of people don’t). Someone wrote a funny letter to the editor saying that maybe adults just want a few snow days because we’re all cranky and tired and need a day off.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sounds like someone should move back to Minnesota.
posted by skyscraper at 9:41 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

What I loved most about this tweetstorm is how nicely it skewers the personality of Seattle. The craft brews, the runs on fresh veggies, the crucible of Queen Anne. It was hilarious, and so true.

Yes, exactly! It was very Seattle. And I loved it. (Love it -- he's still tweeting!) I'm a little pouty that my plant exchange at a local brewery has been rescheduled, to give you an idea of the cultural context.

(Also don't laugh but I'm thinking of hiking over to the grocery store later today because I'm craving fresh veggies. The salad I had last night did not cut it. We'll see if my neighbors have cleaned it out entirely...)

It's a good release to laugh, too. There are warming sites and more temporary shelters, but people are going to die. Last night's cold was sharp, and it's not like "30's, but above freezing" is balmy. We've talked a lot in this thread about built infrastructure, but there's also a helluva lot of people without houses here who are/will suffer.
posted by kalimac at 9:41 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yeah, the panic shopping for kombucha and kale is funny, but the many thousands of people riding it out in substandard housing and tent encampments isn’t.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:47 AM on February 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

But seriously, please do eat Howard Schultz.
posted by drlith at 9:53 AM on February 10, 2019 [17 favorites]

At least he'd be locally sourced.
posted by mce at 9:58 AM on February 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

I was living in Portland in winter 2017 when the city got slammed with 15 inches of snow. I remember talking to the guy that worked at the corner mini-mart before the storm hit and him saying "yeah I'm not worried it'll melt in a day or two" and I was like "ummmmm you have no idea how long a foot of snow takes to melt good luck, city of Portland"
posted by Automocar at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I got the last (organic, natch) carrots in my neighborhood QFC when I did my panic shopping Thursday night. I haven't left the house since other than to walk the kids around the neighborhood, and at this rate it looks like the earliest I will is Wednesday. I live in a house on a hill, and in particular, my driveway is steep; we keep it shoveled but it hardens into an ice rink every night.

My favorite bit in the tweetstorm was him saying his biggest regret was calling it "the 5". A fellow CA transplant called 405 "the 405" once in a wide distribution email and she said within ten minutes fifteen people had replied to give her shit about it.
posted by potrzebie at 10:16 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

The city isn't built to handle snow. Drivers in Seattle are awful on good days, and so are the roads. Add snow and things get insane. All those gentle grades on side streets become dangerous. If we know snow is coming, stocking up and staying off the roads is smart.

That said, we are also ridiculous.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

And, the PCC was cleaned out as well, regardless of the high prices...

Ànd it's supposed to snow again tonight, (2-3 inches), and then another big dump on Tuesday night.

It's going to be an interesting week.
posted by Windopaene at 10:48 AM on February 10, 2019

Having just moved from Seattle to Minnesota, I was hoping for some interesting commentary on the different ways that the two cultures differ with regard to snow rather than four dozen C minus one liners about Seattle cultural cliches. "You know what they do in Seattle? Well now they do it in the snow!!" Humor is a rich tapestry.
posted by Kwine at 10:53 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah, he's a philosopher, that makes a lot of sense. Learning to endure this kind of humor is definitely a survival skill around philosophers.
posted by Kwine at 10:57 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, I’ve never been to Seattle, so I have no basis for comparison, but personally I’m getting really tired of the jerkos who think everyone should be sending their kids out to get frostbite and then spend 2 hours driving to work, just for the sake of it. Like, hi, we actually don’t have to do either of those things. It’s not character-building, it just puts people in the hospital. Yeah, it’s good to know how to handle those situations in an emergency, but it’s still something you avoid doing, not something you do on purpose. Those idiots are probably out driving on the lake to their ice house in mid-April too.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:59 AM on February 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Real pros know winter weather calls for storm chips.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:07 AM on February 10, 2019

Also don't laugh but I'm thinking of hiking over to the grocery store later today because I'm craving fresh veggies.

If I were going to laugh it would be because my hike to the grocery store yesterday was to a nearly-vegetable-free business.
posted by Slothrup at 11:10 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

At the UW, a student died after slipping on the ice last week (although it has come to light that she had a medical condition that may have contributed to her fall). Despite evidence that some assholes purposefully put water on the walkways (lots of videos of this), campus is not safe.
There were calls for the president's resignation over this.

I wonder what next week will bring.
posted by k8t at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

If we could protect people whose paychecks are based on actual worked hours but rent is always due, I'd still be in favor of the pre-boom Seattle's view that everyone deserves a snow day. Skiiers used to sort of roam about in their snow-capable vehicles to get people who had to travel where they were going. (There could be an app for that!)

Last big snow I was heavily dressed to run an errand for my in-laws and went a few doors down to ask if their eighty-year-old neighbor needed anything. She didn't answer the door. We had just begun to worry when she arrived back from the grocery on her (wooden!) snowshoes and asked if we needed anything.

This year I was shoveling the next block up when I met the other shoveler in my neighborhood, also an eighty year old. Possibly only in her seventies, it's hard to tell with the spry. Life goals.
posted by clew at 11:14 AM on February 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

posted by bizwank at 8:34 AM on February 10
[2 favorites +] [!]

Are you from the chamber of commerce?

posted by Cogito at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

A few articles for historical context:

After storm of criticism, Seattle mayor reverses no-salt policy for snow (January 1, 2009)

Two weeks of wicked winter weather whack Washington beginning on December 17, 2008 (Historylink article from 2012)

McGinn seeks to avoid “snowpocalypse” (November 8, 2010)

I also remember the city sold a bunch of "surplus" snowplows several years ago but can't find any references online to that.

Enjoying the tweets from Seattle DOT pleading with people to shovel their sidewalks (though who here actually owns a snow shovel?) and to not use city streets as their own personal sled runs. I've been on vacation so consider myself lucky that I don't have anywhere I have to be; however I'm dying for an espresso and may brave the 4 block trudge up the hill to my local shop (who says they were open yesterday, but I'm skeptical).
posted by plasticpalacealice at 11:39 AM on February 10, 2019

I rode my bike in -40 weather in Edmonton.

Yeah, but was that Celsius or Fahrenheit?
posted by JackFlash at 12:04 PM on February 10, 2019 [15 favorites]

I wasn't implying that somehow Seattle and the surrounding cities should have plentiful spare plows (and workers who know how to use them) for these rare conditions. I lived in western New York, it takes tax dollars to manage the impact of snow. It wouldn't be a good use of resources here. But it seems to me that the people and governments are handling things better this time around than they did in 2008.
posted by stowaway at 12:08 PM on February 10, 2019

So, my Seattle snow story, which I'm sure I've told here before: I was stranded on the Evergreen Point floating bridge from 3PM until 1AM in the 1989 (?) snows. I eventually had to get a ride home when my car ran out of gas from some dude who did a 12-mile circle to drop me off the two miles from where he gave me the lift, and got into a fistfight as well when he decided driving down the oncoming lane was a good idea.

Here on Whidbey, I've lost a couple of trunks from the ornamental maples with the 10" or so of snow we have. I'm about to venture out to see if the grocery has essentials like potato chips and cookies.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

The refusal to use salt on the roads in 2008 likely cost Mayor Nickels his job.  What a shitshow that was.  In order to keep plows from damaging the roads, they set the plow several inches above the road height and attached little rubber fringes to the bottom.  Then after making a nice layer of compacted icy snow on the road surface, instead of using salt they spread sand.  Cars rapidly turned it into a slushy, sandy, icy mess that was impossible to get through.  Thankfully, the city learned its lesson and now plows and salts properly.

They avoided salts out of concern for Puget Sound's health, but holy crap their solution was awful.  It's like they didn't even take into account that thought the salts may not be the best thing for the Sound's health, they also only get used in any real amount once a decade.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:21 PM on February 10, 2019

I work at the Vita on Capitol Hill (no snow days for locally owned wage workers!), and it’s been entertaining seeing the neighborhood not really transform over the weekend—everyone’s out, and drunk, but it’s the same bunch of young-skewing new-Seattlites out any day of the week. The street garbage accumulation is much less too, demonstrating that it’s probably tourists from other hoods and the Eastside who trash our neighborhood as I suspected. Everyone’s been dumb as rocks (cold+booze makes for slack jaws, plus there was a snow rave in Cal Anderson last night??) but very Seattle. Nostalgia, but in puffier jackets.

The screams of surprise and awe when the real snowplows came down Pike last night around midnight (big CATs with sideplows too!) were a nice bonus.
I yelled too, haven’t seen a big one like that since I lived in Idaho!
posted by zinful at 12:25 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

and attached little rubber fringes to the bottom

The plows I've seen this year still use rubber (versus metal or plastic scrapers) and I assume it's to protect the Botts' dots -- something else more snow-prone environments don't have to worry about.
posted by Slothrup at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2019

The thread is funny, and I've seen all the crazy pictures posted to the Seattle subreddits, but as a counterpoint, I live a block from the Pine and Broadway QFC, and when I wandered in on Friday stocking looked fine aside from a paucity of bread and a few other items here and there.

It was a lot of fun walking up to Volunteer Park yesterday. Lots of kids and dogs having fun in the snow. Seattle always looks lovely in it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Snowboarding Queen Anne
posted by Feyala at 12:27 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah – the problem in Seattle and Portland usually isn't the snow. It's the lack of salt or snow-plowing on many sidestreets plus the fact that in the PNW, snowstorms are often followed by fluctuating temps above and below freezing. So we get snow sandwiches with ice on the bottom on top. Add to that the fact that many of the unplowed/unsalted streets are hilly, and that most people don't have tire chains or studded tires, and that many new residents here are from places where all-weather tires are fine for driving on snow, except they don't realize that here there's ice on top of the snow ... and you can see why things are different here. This is why we raid groceries whenever a storm is predicted, even if it fizzles out. Most of us here in Portland remember the storm in January 2017 where most residential sideroads were icy for six days.
posted by lisa g at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am still very much snowed in. I'm currently hiding in my shed under two good sleeping bags and there's a snowy cat pestering me. The power is on which is a very good thing. My shed is really well insulated, and if I keep the doors closed I can keep it quite warm in here with a little ceramic heater.

I've even been keeping the humming bird feeder filled and warm.

I'm doing fine and otherwise loving it. I was recently given a pair of totally boss xtratuf rubber boots that actually fit my giant legs and with enough layers and my rain shell and pants I'm good to go for stomping around for hours. I've also been out just sitting and birdwatching and making coffee or cocoa on my stove out of snow.

I'm seriously debating making a quinzee or snow cave just for practice. Also considering rigging up some kind of snow shoe solution.

I took the storm warning seriously. I'm not employed so I don't have a commute. I just have to hunker down and fight off cabin fever and not freeze, and hope the power stays on. I was even prepared and ready to help my housemates with stuff like shoveling, getting tools gathered, having hiking/walking poles ready to help people climb the long driveway out here. I deployed a sled left by the previous owners for carrying groceries and supplies and it worked really well, and will be using it to haul a couple of 50 pound bags of salt up the driveway. Which, eventually, I get to salt by hand, wee.

But I'm doing fine and am lucky and thankful I have a roof right now. It is hard to understate how this much snow is a huge problem for this area, and how unprepared we are for it. The local bus system has had all day shutdowns at least once, and a whole lot of people in my part of the world are effectively completely snowed in.

There's been at least one exposure related death, and I think I know who it was. She was one of the unhomed people who would come in for food and soup at the community place where I worked.

Others in the thread have touched on why a few inches (or feet!) of snow here are such a problem, and I can offer a few more. One of these is that this is very wet, warm, coastal lowland snow. It's super thick and heavy and turns to rock hard glare ice as soon as it's compressed. It is only rarely fluffy, and while we had some of that rarely fluffy snow in areas, it tends to be more like a cross of Slurpee and concrete.

And not only are there ridiculous hills everywhere, our roads are specifically designed for constant rain, not snow. They are so heavily crowned it's tiresome to walk down the shoulder of a road because you'll wear out one leg before the other from the lean of the shoulder. This means that when the road is frozen you just drift naturally into one side or the other and it's nearly impossible to hold a steady straight line.

Now put that road on a hill. The easy slopes are like 3-4% grades. Some of them hit 7-8% and you can barely walk up them in the rain. If you miss step on a wet grate, you can get dumped because it's too steep for traction. People spin tires on these hills coming off a red light even before there's snow. Learning to drive a clutch here would be fucking terrifying.

Now put that road on a hill and give it a couple of twists and turns. Like Olive/Denny/John. Now give it screwy five way, three light intersections and narrow urban streets with highly competitive on street parking.

And oh shit, here comes an articulated bus and it's sliding backwards and sideways!

Ok.. time for more coffee. Then thermals, and layers, then snow!
posted by loquacious at 1:04 PM on February 10, 2019 [29 favorites]

Really good to hear from you loq! I'm jealous of your snowy forest that's RIGHT THERE and glad to hear you've still got power :)

I went out to pick up a few groceries, and found things pretty well stocked, though with noticeably missing cheese, frozen pizza, and sections of the chips aisle, which I find kind of delightful. I was able to get vegetables! And there was even a decent amount of milk left! It was absolutely slammed, though, even for an early Sunday afternoon.

The sidewalks between my place and the store (5-ish, flat-ish blocks), however, were fucking terrifying. I am athletic, able-bodied, and probably have better-than-average core strength and balance, and I was penguin-walking at a speed of -10, truly afraid of spectacularly eating it. The sidewalk in front of my apartment is a sheet of ice, and that's not particularly unusual, even for heavily-trafficked streets. I was kind of hoping to make it to the park again today as the second snowstorm comes in, but I'll just be watching it from inside. And considering whether to spring for ice cleats.
posted by kalimac at 1:46 PM on February 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

Hey I just got back from the SODO Costco and things are indeed dire: There were only two operational sample stations, and the bakery section was badly depleted. Send help.

(Arterials are in great shape and traffic is light. My neighbor did give me the stink-eye as I inched the car down the packed snow of my neighborhood’s one block long slight grade hill, but there was no slipping and it went fine)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:51 PM on February 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I rode my bike in -40 weather in Edmonton.
Yeah, but was that Celsius or Fahrenheit?
posted by JackFlash at 12:04 PM on February 10 [5 favorites +] [!]
Fair enough - but in my largish comment I carefully used only two "temperatures": -40 and freezing. I feel that I have to deny you any bonus points for missing the twofer.
posted by mce at 1:54 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm still sad when we have to salt the streets -- salting our own earth seems like a particularly evil trick industrial society has pulled on us. And none of the vertebrates in the Salish Sea are doing well.

So I just spent an afternoon chipping ice off the sidewalks with a spade, because while most of my two blocks is clean enough to be dry without salt there are nano-climates that turn into an inch of ice. Chip chip chip chip.

(SOMEONE owns a snowblower and went around the whole block with it after the last main snowfall, which left me a lot of time to do the fussy bits.)
posted by clew at 2:50 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

+1 that this is a seattle check in thread now, and that we are discussing vegetables and intersections.
i love this city so much sometimes. also who the hell owns a snowblower and can they come to the northern CD next!?
posted by zinful at 2:57 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ex-pat (cough Bothell) in Boston now, here we are looking around at all the bare roads and grey trees wondering why Seattle gets all the fun. And it looks like we get a good snow on tuesday but there's a warming trend the day after. Send it over here, we're bored.

A few years ago in Boston which has a lot of plows, the weather services and the mayors got all predictions just exactly wrong, sunny morning work day but the storm came in fast, officials announced "everyone leave work early, emergency, emergency". The roads were easily drivable except for panicked idiots creating total gridlock everywhere. My three mile drive was close to 5 hours. Since then there've been some storm events where they could have got away with just plowing but they shut down the entire city in anticipation, the plows cleared everything overnight instead of days of annoyance.
posted by sammyo at 3:08 PM on February 10, 2019

My check in... I'm in Mexico but coming back tonight (hopefully).
The class I teach is totally screwed up now. My kid has been out of school.
I hope that on the way home I can stop by a store for some supplies. Sigh.
posted by k8t at 4:03 PM on February 10, 2019

The next round of snow has now started, but they say it will only be 1-2 inches.

I'm thankful I have a job that lets me work from home tomorrow, and that in-laws are staying with us who can watch the kid during yet another school closure.
posted by Slothrup at 4:26 PM on February 10, 2019

Looking more and more like an ice storm on Monday and Tuesday. I think the Northwest weather has had it with the Midwestern whining and figures it's time to really make them feel it. Thanks, jerks.
posted by dw at 6:15 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty much glued to Cliff Mass's weather blog

(and I totally had to refer to a grammar blog to figure out how to do the possessive noun of "Mass" so don't think I'm smart or anything.)
posted by nikaspark at 6:17 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, here in Crown Hill, it's coming down hard. If this is a storm without much "juice", we'd better hope the one coming tomorrow with a lot of juice warms out. Could be crazy. Maybe it won't be cold enough.

My son was supposed to go on a two night "snow camping" trip in the Cascades on Tuesday, that they have been building sleds for and snowshoeing all semester for. Guessing that's not happening...
posted by Windopaene at 7:02 PM on February 10, 2019

UW and schools closed tomorrow.
posted by k8t at 8:00 PM on February 10, 2019

Cliff Mass is useful but is not a good human.
posted by k8t at 8:02 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Friday morning I set out from Southeast Alaska, hoping that I'd beat the snow and have no problems with my connection at SeaTac. My hope was in vain.

The skies were merely overcast when my inbound flight landed around noon local time and there wasn't any sign of snow on the ground, so I thought I was going to be lucky. But within half an hour of my arrival at the airport wet snow was falling heavily and by the time my connecting flight for Chicago was supposed to leave at the end of my three-hour layover the D terminal was in chaos and harried American Airlines gate agents were trying to placate angry groups of stranded passengers by wheeling out a cart with bottled water and goldfish crackers. Needless to say that didn't do the trick.

After 4 1/2 hours of delay, meted out 20 - 30 minutes at a time, and a couple of random gate changes just to keep us on our toes, we were allowed to board. (We didn't take off at that time, of course, don't be ridiculous..)

Anyway, I reached my hotel in Chicago at around 2:30 AM, which I suppose I should be thankful for, since several other flights from SeaTac to O'Hare that day were cancelled and if I'd been booked on any of them I'd have missed my uncle's funeral service.

Apparently my trip timing is not so good (not that I had a wide range of choice) as about half an hour ago I received a text from Alaska Airlines saying they've already cancelled the return flight I had booked for tomorrow. Not great, but better to be stuck in Chicago than many places and at least this time I'm not already at the airport..
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:06 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Welp, I'm back from a thankfully very low drama and adventure-free trip with the housemates to Costco for supplies and snacks. It probably wasn't essential but it'll be nice if we get really socked in.

I decided to go with them just in case it wasn't low drama because I had a bag full of snacks, handwarmers, water and a backpacker's stove, so if we got stuck on the trip at least we wouldn't starve or freeze. It's also good I went because I'm possibly the only person here that remembers how to untangle and put on chains in a hurry, which we did for the segment back off the main roads.

Which, also? WTF, I grew up in LA and don't even drive and have never owned a car. I shouldn't know how to put on chains but I do. And I'm DEFINITELY not griping about having to put on the chains and take lead on that - I wouldn't have this shed without them and I'm glad to help and it's exactly why I went with them. I'm mainly illustrating how unprepared most people are in this area for snow. Unless you leave sea level and live, work or play in the actual mountains, you only need chains once every 10 years or so around here.

There is so much snow that I just went to grab one standard plastic stacking patio chair outside my door so I could dump the snow out of it and sit down to cool off from a climb up the hill, and my hand wiffed through the arm/shoulder I thought I was grabbing like it was a ghost, because it was all snow.

It wiffed through it again two more times. It was so strange and nearly hallucinatory I just started laughing. The actual plastic of the chair was like a full 14" lower than I thought it was, and now that I think about that this illusion was helped along by the snow pack I was standing on, because I left the chair on snow-free ground.

I don't think I'm making it town for the food bank this week, which is why I stockpile non-perishables. I could hole up for at least two weeks but I'd probably go bonkers from rice and beans before then.

But it's looking real iffy. I hiked out last week in a measly 3-4 inches and it took me a bit over an hour, and I can usually make that walk in about 27-28 minutes if I hustle. If I try with just the snow we have right now it'll take as much as 3 hours without snow shoes, and I'm guessing 10x the calories and effort. I'm trying to even imagine hiking back with a 60+ pound pack full of food even with snow shoes and a sledge and it might seriously push my limits, like, existentially if not philosophically.

It took us about 45 minutes plus a neighbor to get our car out of the relatively mild snow down the road. The main roads are well cleared, but we have crappy road markings for snow and there's no snowplow pole markers or anything like that. Getting to Costco in Silverdale took just under twice as long, and the trip back was about 3x as long and never more than 30 MPH because of heavy flurries and increasingly sticky snow and driving by rumble strips the whole way.

Traffic was thankfully light and our driver did great even though she's totally brand new to snow. We even pointed out some logical safe spots to do some brake and steering tests so she could get a feel for what's going on and how to steer into a skid, and why just letting off the gas and avoiding the brake as much as possible is best.

So, at least 2-3 inches have fallen since we left, if not 4-6 on the higher parts. If we get another foot (or two!? sheesh) we're pretty much socked in for at least two weeks of warmer temps, unless I can get the bulldozer started or we find someone with a big ass 4x4 turbodiesel and a blade to scrape our driveway. And, well, I have no idea how to start a bulldozer or drive one, so that sounds like a good way to send a bulldozer tumbling down the hills even if it wasn't covered in like 2 feet of snow. I've also seen way too many videos of dozers in snow and they... don't work as well as you'd think and they just tend to want to slide sideways 'cause they don't have that much lateral traction.

It also means it's probably about time to get on the roof and shovel off some snow, which, meh, not looking forward to that at all. Nor am I looking forward to salting a quarter mile of steep driveway, but I won't have to even consider doing that for a few days.

Wee. There is just a RIDICULOUS amount of snow out there. I have no idea how people deal with this for 3+ months.

I've been up and down that driveway helping carry/sledge stuff about eight times in the last two days and it's definitely curing me of any stupid ideas about bagging big alpine peaks or skiing to the south pole or something. Or homesteading or long term camping anywhere with regular snow. I found myself looking at used snow shoes today, and didn't even realize they were children's snow shoes for a good 15 minutes, which, lol. I am kind of wishing I grabbed the used backpacker's snow shovel though.

I am still really into the idea of making a snow cave. With the right gear and the right (ish) snow I bet lower-effort back country snowshoe camping or snow camping in general would be really pleasant and amazing.

One of the things I'm really enjoying is how much easier it is to see birds and wildlife, or go tracking. There's a gazillion bunny tracks out in the back trails and I even saw what I think were juvenile cougar tracks. I would be 99% certain they were because of the lack of claw marks, but I couldn't find a clear enough print to identify the 2+3 lobes on the center pad.

But, also, the tracks went off the road and led to a definite pounce and leap kind of track, then led further off into heavy underbrush, and were lacking human prints, which all adds up to it likely not being someone's pet dog.
posted by loquacious at 9:12 PM on February 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

Looking more and more like an ice storm on Monday and Tuesday.

Oh? Fuck. Fucking hell. If so, we're likely going to lose power, and I should get the rest of the shit from the car tonight.
posted by loquacious at 9:14 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm glad this one was funny, but I am a little tired of people getting made fun of for grocery shopping in anticipation of being snowed in for a week or more. In 2010, we had five inches of snow, which quickly turned into a sheet of ice and took six days to melt off the roads. On that sixth day we drove to the store and stocked up, came home, and then it snowed enough on top of our few inches left in the yard, to be ten inches in all. We didn't leave the house for another week except to play in the yard with our kid. It was great, because we were prepared to be stuck at home.

I lived in Seattle as a kid too and remember the snow in 1990 that left 1,200 students stuck at school overnight, many kids trapped on school buses (no official count, but at least a dozen buses at the top of 23rd, including my sister's), and a bunch of lucky kids who made it home only three hours late, extremely hungry. (The latter being me. My sister made it home because a friend's dad drove to the bottom of the hill, walked the eight or so blocks up, and offered to take a few extra kids.) A lot of metro buses stopped running. My mom walked from her work on Capital Hill, to a friend's house to spend the night, then the rest of the way home in the morning. Seven miles of ice in Birkenstocks.

I do my damnedest to never go anywhere when snow is imminent that I can't walk home from. And yes, I try to make sure I've got groceries for at least a week, with things like bread flour in case it lasts longer.

And here's a grade map of Queen Anne posted on Twitter which seems pretty representative of the city. It's icy hills any direction you go. At least we've got great sledding.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:21 PM on February 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I live in Northgate and even here, where it was platted out as a suburban-style shopping center with cute residential abutting, we still have hills and places for snow to accumulate and turn into ice. I went out to walk around Northgate Transit Center and it is packed solid with snow and ice. Just a couple of days ago, the parking area was slushy and melting. Now, it looks like that new NHL practice facility has already been built and is usable.

My theory is, when Metro—the people who drive on all kinds of streets in all kinds of weather—turns on its never-before-used-but-planned-out-every-quarter-since-2008 emergency snow network, I'm not leaving. And I don't feel one bit embarrassed about going out a few days ago to buy my groceries a couple of days early.

All of the people mocking all of the people who were out shopping would also probably mock someone who accidentally starved or who got injured or killed while going out to get food in the snow, so it's a no-win thing for "avoiding getting mocked." I'll happily take being made fun of on the local Twitter/Dori rants* if it means I have all of the tasty stuff I usually like to eat in sufficient quantities to finally finish off that list of movies I've wanted to watch, indoors and warm.

* Not linking it, but local hothead Dori Monson proclaimed yesterday or Friday that Seattle residents rushing out to empty grocery stores is because of rampant socialism.
posted by fireoyster at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Dori Monson is a complete tool though, so...
posted by Windopaene at 10:25 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Cliff Mass guardedly predicts it'll warm up enough tomorrow night to be mostly rain overnight, and a slushy commute Tuesday. I'll take that over ice storm any day.
posted by potrzebie at 10:56 PM on February 10, 2019

SeaTac was a shit show. Lyft/Uber is typically $40 to where I live and it was over $100 now.
The last light rail is jam packed.

A neighbor messaged and our street was just plowed so hopefully we can get home with some ease. My husband remembered that he has rain boots in the garage so we can hopefully get in the house without digging a lot of stuff out.

It is too late to get supplies tho. :(
posted by k8t at 11:18 PM on February 10, 2019

I've been pondering this one for a few years, and I think I have figured out the grocery store thing.

And, yes, Dori Monson is a chrome plated tool of the most useless kind.

So, my grocery store theory goes like this:

Average human hears about super rare snow storm warning, logically thinks ahead about their usual routine and how to get their shopping done in time so as not to disrupt their normal routine too much, both the act of shopping and surviving the inclement weather.

The average suburban/urban human doesn't have to plan very far ahead in their day to day lives for basic needs, rarely more than 24 hours, and they don't think about distance as more than time, not actual distance or calories, and rarely weight. Sure, they may plan ahead in terms of "I'm almost out of TP and detergent, time to go to Costco!" or in terms of work and life scheduling, but not necessarily in terms of the unavailability of food, heat or electricity - or open roads.

In addition to this, the average human considers picking up a few extra things ranging from comfort food and snacks to full on snow supplies or even emergency gear. Responses range from "I need twenty frozen pizzas and all the beer because I'm going to party!" to "I eat a lot of damn kale and avocados. What does a weeks worth of kale and avocados look like?" to "I actually have Celiac's and dietary restrictions! I need these things!" to even "I can't even remember what I usually eat and I think it's bread and milk? No, wait, I usually eat out and I have no idea how to cook I guess I'll buy bread and milk? Or pickles and Twizzlers? Fuck!" or moreover "I have five kids and we go through eight gallons of milk and ten loaves of bread a week."

And people go about their days and week as the storm approaches, and somewhere in this there's a really steep, sharp Bell curve of awareness of what's going on conflicting with work schedules, normal life and available time and then the steep shoulder of that Bell curve starts hitting the stores.

And then when that curve hits, it hits the news and the rest of that curve starts going "Oh, shit? Really?" and runs to the stores because they were planning to anyway and the next thing you know the normal staff and just in time stocking and turnover is wiped out of essentials in 24 hours or much less, because most of our stores operate with very high turnover and low stock that gets turned over about once a week.

And the store run thing usually lasts - at best - about 12-24 hours. It's not like there's rabid mobs of people fighting over bread (well, ok, it happens) but it's more like there's a peak of about 12-24 hours where there's just too many people buying what they usually buy, except it's narrowly focused on a few hours. And it almost always happens in high density areas where there's just going to be an inherent concentration of people and sudden load. All the stores I saw out here in suburban and rural country were fine.

If Dori Monson's rant is even fractionally, marginally and accidentally correct about this store run thing and people not being self reliant or prepared - and most people are indeed not prepared for an unwanted week off grid - it's that people are expecting to be able to rely on certain services, but it's not socialist services or the government they are expecting this from.

It's capitalist and consumerist services they're expecting to exist and be functional.

Not that I want to give this known crank any keyboard time, but it's obvious that Dori Monson doesn't understand how tightly scheduled, projected and calculated consumer supply chains are managed, nor how it's actually capitalism and consumerism that makes them that way, and how all of our stores from rural to urban would run out of food in a matter of days without constant supplies.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I haven’t been had a hope of getting my car out since Friday. I live halfway up a small hill, also halfway up a dead-end residential street, so there’s no way we’re getting plowed. But it’s actually kind of frustrating, because the entire block is apartment buildings and townhouses- I think there are 75-100 people living here, and at least 50 parking spots, between parking lots and street parking. But I don’t know if plows would even be able to turn around at the end of my street.

And the management companies of the apartment buildings didn’t do shit either. No salting, no shoveling the outdoor stairs or walks. I was super lucky, I have a hero neighbor who shoveled all of my complex’s walks and stairs on Saturday morning. But most people can’t get out of our parking lot. And if they could, our street is treacherous.

Which, despite my whining, is fine for me. I work from home and haven’t had anywhere I’ve desperately needed to be - my dog is going a little crazy not getting to the dog park, and I had to cancel some social plans, but it’s been nice to hunker down. I’m lucky to live close to my neighborhood’s “downtown” area, where all the businesses were open yesterday, so I was able to go to a bakery and buy the all-important bread!

It’s been a cool chance to hang out with neighbors. There’s one couple I like but we can go weeks without seeing each other - I had them over for brunch on Saturday and they had me over for chili last night. And another neighbor friend and I finally made good on our “let’s get a drink sometime” promises at a local bar Saturday night.

So my snowpocalypse has been pretty convivial so far!

But I really hope we get rain and not sleet/ice today. This has been fun but an ice storm could cripple the city.
posted by lunasol at 7:10 AM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, please, no ice storm. Two days of warm rain would be nice if it started melting things.

Oh, I forgot to mention this part of my Costco trip, and this is the most illustrative description I have yet for how much snow we have right around here.

We came back to find a plow and sand truck near our place...

...on it's side, in a ditch, half swallowed in a drift.
posted by loquacious at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

I haven’t been had a hope of getting my car out since Friday.

Yikes, apparently the cabin fever is affecting my writing ability ...
posted by lunasol at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2019

We came back to find a plow and sand truck near our place...

...on it's side, in a ditch, half swallowed in a drift.

Damn. That's some real snowpocalypse shit.
posted by lunasol at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2019

I read the comments on the Dori Monson post. Wow. His usually supportive online audience are not very supportive of his "because socialism" rant. Some are distinctly unsupportive. Some say he needs to retire.
posted by bz at 12:02 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Damn. That's some real snowpocalypse shit.

I'm honestly impressed they managed to get it keeled over like they did. The road there is flat, and the ditch is actually really mild and shallow. When dry you might be able drive a normal car through it if you knew what you were doing.

Nope. Big ol' truck fell over. It was really confusing because on its side and half buried in snow and approaching it in the dark it doesn't look like a truck. It just looks like someone dumped a big rusty pile of metal half in the road.
posted by loquacious at 12:34 PM on February 11, 2019

Every time some smug New Englander mocks the West Coast for being unprepared for a four-times-per-century snow event, I ask them when was the last time they replaced the perishables in their earthquake preparedness kit.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:47 PM on February 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yay, it's snowing again. Yaaay. /deadpan
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on February 11, 2019

Been snowing 2 of the last three hours here in Crown Hill. Smaller flakes, feels warmer so not seeming to be accumulating. 2 hours till Cliff said it would rain. We shall see...
posted by Windopaene at 1:54 PM on February 11, 2019

And this is probably the part where Cliff Mass is wrong about snow again (because he often is and has like a 50/50 record or so) and we get another full on blizzard, and Seattle finally hunts him down and takes his head and pelt as a trophy.
posted by loquacious at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

We had a little window of what looked like rain, but yeah, snow is firmly back. My street, which has likely never seen a plow in its entire existence, is looking clearer than it did this morning at least.

NWS Seattle, which is just generally excellent at Twitter, is flat-out crowdsourcing weather reports of where the rain is and where it's moving. It looks like a changeover to rain is slowly making its way east and north?
posted by kalimac at 2:07 PM on February 11, 2019

The flakes have been huge here (Rainier Valley) and it's been coming down since 11ish when I came back from replenishing my supplies. Goddammit, Cliff Mass, first you were an asshole about climate legislation and now this!

I've never hoped more ardently for rain in Seattle. My extroverted self is getting a bit stir-crazy.
posted by lunasol at 2:53 PM on February 11, 2019

Hell, my mostly introverted self is going stir crazy because it's been difficult to go sit in the trees or do anything I consider a normal routine.

Weeee, the power just flickered hard. Please don't go out, power. If it does we might all have to go seek shelter somewhere else. We'd have a hard time even getting a good fire going outside and staying warm around it outside. We do have a couple of stoves between us and I did just buy a bunch of handwarmers, and it's not like existential -40 instant frostbite cold.

But without power we lose water, kitchen, heat and everything else. Thankfully the line to the property is buried but the local grid definitely isn't.
posted by loquacious at 3:17 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Still snowing HARD here in NE Seattle, and now Dark Sky isn't showing any rain until tomorrow morning. I was hoping tomorrow might be something closer to normal, but now it just looks like any melting we get will freeze every night and make each morning icy as hell. This is nuts.
posted by sapere aude at 3:23 PM on February 11, 2019

Same here in Seattle Metro - the flakes are huge and chunky, and it's quite dark. Wunderground is showing a little rain symbol, but I get the sense that everyone is just [shrug emoji] as to when actual rain gets here. I assume commutes are going to be literal hell all week, since it's going to be above freezing during the day and then near or below every night.

lunasol, if it's any comfort, I'm majestically introverted and yet starting to long to be able to go into the office and see people and talk to them. This is not a feeling I am used to ;) I really miss easily going on walks and just getting out of the apartment. I think the cat and I are starting to get on each others' nerves.
posted by kalimac at 3:35 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I posted about my extroverted ass climbing the walls on Facebook and all my introvert friends were like meeeeee toooooo. Actually, this afternoon seems to be the time when Seattle is collectively losing its shit about this snow, if my feeds are any indication.
posted by lunasol at 4:37 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Power just flickered a few minutes ago. It was enough to shut down my work computer (to which I'm connected remotely) so -- I guess no more work today?
posted by Slothrup at 4:47 PM on February 11, 2019

Still waiting on that rain...
posted by Windopaene at 6:32 PM on February 11, 2019

It's changed back and forth between snow and wintry mix several times here. We're at a bit more than 14 inches sitting in our yard right now. And I'm still loving it. I was super bummed at the prospect of rain instead of a foot of snow. Mostly because we don't have to go anywhere until schools open again and it's hard to get bored being with my family. My daughter has gotten us outside most days to play and my spouse still wanders over to the window, multiple times per day, to say, "it's snowing!" in a totally delighted tone. I've been reading by the window for a lot of the day and still love watching it fall. I'm sure when the the ice melts I'll enjoy going past my block again, but for now I'll relish the snow.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:36 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seems to be alternating between snow and rain here in Bitter Lake, although mostly snow. I’m on Team Keep Snowing, if for no reason other than I had to postpone a mini vacation Wednesday until the beginning of March, so if it turns out I could have gone after all I’m going to be very annoyed.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:51 PM on February 11, 2019

I flew into Seattle, having never been there, the night of February 17th, 1990 when it got over six inches of snow, which isn't that much to me. But I've never experienced anything like it.

The airport was nearly deserted. Groups of us wandered around looking for a way to leave the airport. We eventually found a hotel shuttle that was still running that agreed to take most of us, even if our various destinations weren't on its route.

I needed to get to the bus station because I was taking the bus north to Vancouver. The shuttle driver said that he'd drop me there.

As we drove through Seattle, there were almost no people or other traffic, anywhere. Several times we drove on streets that crossed above freeways and that was what amazed me most: each time, the view was of no traffic and only abandoned cars on the freeways. Semis, trucks, and autos left on the shoulder, in the lanes, askew.

Making it to the bus station sometime around midnight, the more epic portion of my journey began.

The Greyhound bus had chains installed on all its tires. They were a bit loud. Thus began a more than eight hour drive to Vancouver. I arrived at the station after sunrise. At some point along the way, one of the chains on a back tire came undone, made an unholy racket, and the driver had to stop the bus and refasten the chains.

If I'd seen people resorting to cannibalism it wouldn't have surprised me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 PM on February 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

When we've gotten really big snowstorms, one I remember back in like 95 or so, people abandoned their cars ON THE FREEWAY! Not on the shoulder or anything. Just said, "Fuck This!" And walked away...
posted by Windopaene at 7:16 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

It has been a "power out" fall and winter, and I'm listening to the drone of the generator right now. Sigh.
posted by maxwelton at 7:21 PM on February 11, 2019

If I'd seen people resorting to cannibalism it wouldn't have surprised me.

That's the traditional third-day activity. (On the fourth we burn the Princess Shireen.)
posted by maxwelton at 7:23 PM on February 11, 2019

I already ate all the people I got at Costco. They were kind of meh and weird. I should have picked up some free range people at PCC.

Power still on, keeping batteries charged. Still snowing.
posted by loquacious at 7:49 PM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Someone noted that the snow blows white on the mountain tonight and so we sang Let It Go. Are now listening to songs from the new stage musical Frozen.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:02 PM on February 11, 2019

There was a loud crack! tonight and the lovely old fir tree behind my apartment building lost a big branch to all the wet snow that's piling up on it.  I'm ready for the rain at this point—I don't want to see that poor tree suffer any more losses.  Besides, there are only so many days I can tromp around in the snow enjoying the chance to wear my long wool officer's coat and snapping pictures before I start to get bored.

The novelty's worn off and all my pictures look the same.  Send rain, please.  I want that lovely silvery light from low rain clouds back.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:33 PM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm an introvert and don't miss seeing people at my office, but trying to work from home with two small kids home on the fifth snow day in a week span is not going well. By the end of the day I was basically communicating with my children in exclusively snarls and growls. They did their best not to be a bother, but parenting is a lot of work and doesn't really mesh well with my office job.

In my neighborhood on the Eastside we haven't seen rain yet. It's been snowing off and on all night.
posted by potrzebie at 10:15 PM on February 11, 2019

I’m over in south-east WA (about midway between Yakima & Tri-Cities) and Saturday was bad. The wind started just after dawn and sometime before I got up it had broken the Plexiglas on my screen door and blown my front door open. It was 25º in my living room and 45º in my bedroom. My electricity is out for unrelated reasons so I only have a woodstove for heat. It took awhile to get the whole house back up above 70º. The yard is buried in drifts. The worst comes up to my shoulders and runs North/South dividing the yard between the house and the barn.

After getting the fire going I ventured out to carve a path to the barn and dig out the woodpile. It was snowing sideways the whole time with gusts that repeatedly knocked me over and killed visibility. Before I went back in I noticed a car just sitting about 100yards down the road. The snow had drifted across the road and was 3’ deep in spots. I went out with a shovel and started digging him out. After a while two of my neighbors came along with shovels and helped out. We dug out about 50’ of road behind him to where the drifts stopped and he was able to back out (with some pushing) to the main highway. We had to dig in about 5’ chunks and back the car up or the wind would build the snow back up too high for the car pass. Walking back to the house after we were done drifts had pretty much covered up all our work. I think it was midnight before I finally felt totally warm again. About 2pm today the plow finally came to clear the road and there was traffic again.

Once the wind finally stopped it wasn’t so bad. It was nice and sunny most of Sunday. I spent some time outside carving a few pathways here and there. My dog loves jumping over the drifts like hurdles and mostly ignores my pathways. I didn’t know this storm was coming or I would have gone for groceries on Friday. Now my provisions are running a bit low, I’m down to a couple of slices of bread a few eggs and I just cooked my last cup of rice. Weather permitting tomorrow I’ll dig out the car/driveway and run into town. Right now it’s quiet and there are great big flakes coming down. There’s been just over an inch of snow since this afternoon. As long as there are no more nasty North winds I’ll be happy. Stay warm and safe everybody.
posted by Tenuki at 10:30 PM on February 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

The power was out here a little while, so we fired up the wood stove. I was worried with all the snow on the roads it might be a while, but thankfully it's back on now. The roads weren't too bad when I went out to get groceries earlier - packed snow and not ice, thankfully.

But, seeing as it's been a week or so and the snow keeps on piling up and everyone's starting to go a little bit stir-crazy, I'm just going to ask the question that's probably on everyone's mind: can we actually eat Howard Schultz yet?
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:08 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is just to say
I have eaten
the Schultz
that was in
the snowbank

and which
you were probably
for dinner

Forgive me
he was delicious
so rich
and so cold
posted by loquacious at 12:02 AM on February 12, 2019 [11 favorites]

No rain or melt here, but winds are calm, nothing is falling and the power stopped flickering.

I am starting to go full on Ren and Stimpy SPACE MADNESS though.
posted by loquacious at 12:04 AM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sounds a lot like winters in the Northeast for folks who live along the coast. Heart-attack heavy wet snow, indifferent sidewalk shoveling compacts it to ice, over-the-ankle slush on street corners by day, icy ruts at night, salt residue left like high tide lines on boots, watching the local tv station's webcam focussed on the hilly street outside their studio and seeing cars struggling up it. But then sometimes there's waking up to silence and you know even without opening your eyes that it snowed a lot during the night.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:51 AM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

The rain came through a bit behind schedule yesterday in Olympia, and this morning I can actually see pavement at the bottom of the ruts in my (entirely unplowed) street! I may attempt a sortie later today; wine is running low, and I have a mighty need for chips.

Also, I had some fun yesterday using my long-dormant Rock That Sucker skills to help out a neighbor who'd gotten badly stuck trying to get into her driveway.
posted by Kat Allison at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2019

Alaska Airlines has cancelled my return flight (which connects in Seattle) for the second time now, and Wednesday is now the earliest I might get home. I have resources enough to manage an extra two days added to what was supposed to be a quick weekend trip for family purposes but can't imagine that everybody on the plane is quite so fortunate.

I realize that people IN Seattle are much more immediately affected, but these storms are also having a very disruptive effect on people who are merely traveling THROUGH Seattle.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

The melting has started but it's still a huge slushy mess here in Arbor Heights (West Seattle). The side streets are filled with so much slush and water that driving is still best avoided, so I went to check on the little old lady across the alley and shovel out her walk again. Feeling very lucky that I work from home.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:35 AM on February 12, 2019

I just spent an hour digging out a car, on top of the 45 minute round trip to hike to it and back.

Things are warming and starting to melt but that also means I had about 30 pounds of snow fall off a tree and knock me right down like Godzilla dropped a snow ball on me. I am glad it was just snow and not ice or branch.

The temps are in that horrible in between stage where it's still cold but warm enough to overheat, so I've been cooling off by sitting in snow drifts and melting holes in them.

Yep, I am definitely over the snow. And I've been wishing for this all winter. Whoops. I think I should have wished for world peace or a bunch of money or something.
posted by loquacious at 12:46 PM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also is the horrible sound of a snow plow scraping along not the most beautiful noise I'm the world? I hear one right now and it's just lovely.
posted by loquacious at 12:48 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I noticed a neighbor trying to shovel snow with a salad bowl and managed to lend her some shovels. (In her defense, they moved from Florida not long ago.)

Optimists think it will all have melted by tomorrow morning, but I'm going to go out in late afternoon and move as much slush off the sidewalk as I can lift, because boy do I dislike it when it freezes solid overnight. Also I think there were storm drains around here somewhere.
posted by clew at 12:58 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

loquacious: might as well wish, that monkey's paw might have a finger or two left...

Just finished shoveling 15" of prime NW concrete slush off my driveway, so I might at least have a chance to make it to work tomorrow. It's just one block to get to an arterial, but it is an ugly one.
posted by sapere aude at 1:47 PM on February 12, 2019

Welp, our water tanks just ran dry. There's no way the water truck can get up here right now. I might be able to shovel 20-30 feet of driveway in a full day of work. The driveway is a quarter of a mile long.

I will personally be ok because I have a water filter and plenty of snow and fuel, but that's not going to be a solution for the whole house. I might be able to sledge 2-3 2.5 gallon cubes of water up.
posted by loquacious at 2:41 PM on February 12, 2019

Also I think there were storm drains around here somewhere.

There's a storm drain in front of my house, at the bottom of a hill. The run-off headed for the drain has saturated all snow in its path, forming a massive slush lake.

The melting has started but it's still a huge slushy mess here in Arbor Heights

Oh hi neighbor
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:01 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, today was actually the first day I couldn't get down my little hill on foot, so I'm effectively stranded until the rain does its work. Right now, the street is just a mess of ice and slush. I saw one person wipe out, and a neighbor saw one truck with AWD slide down the hill and hit a parked car.

Pretty well over this. I think I'm going to Kondo my clothes once I'm done working.
posted by lunasol at 4:01 PM on February 12, 2019

We had a 30ft tree fall over in our yard last night. Thankfully didn't hit any structures. It had big flat leaves and they just got too covered in snow. Tree service isn't doing any removal till the thaw is over so we just have this depressing tree corpse in our yard now :(
posted by potrzebie at 7:45 PM on February 12, 2019

My alarm didn't go off yesterday. I thought at first that it was related to one of the longer power flickers we had. But when we looked more closely, it was clear that the alarm was set for it's usual time. And in fact, had it's face lit up like it usually did while going off. The only thing missing was the music it played. We poked around a little, to make sure it was tuned to the right station (it was). My spouse peered at it and then ran off for his emergency radio. Couldn't tune it there either. And that's my story of how we found out that C89 had a power outage.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:03 AM on February 13, 2019

posted by loquacious at 10:50 AM on February 13, 2019

posted by loquacious at 10:51 AM on February 13, 2019

Whew, it stopped long enough for me to hike out to the bus.
posted by loquacious at 1:03 PM on February 13, 2019

One of my neighbors shoveled our entire apartment building parking lot AND the street and I just have no idea what I can give him that's worthy of such an act of neighborliness.
posted by lunasol at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

I walked on actual grass and moss in town. It was lovely.
posted by loquacious at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2019

I've had about 3" more snow since Monday with a layer of freezing rain in there somewhere. Based on the forecast this snow isn't going anywhere for a while.

When I was a kid I would have loved this weather. No school and the snow is perfect for building. But my car won't start, I'm running out of food, a snowplow took out my mailbox today and a mouse chewed through my earbud cable. I'm so ready for spring.

At least I've got plenty of firewood, water and a solar charger that's keeping my phone & tablet going.
posted by Tenuki at 5:35 PM on February 13, 2019

The roads around us are well cleared for days now, but we're still technically snowed in and things are just turning into slush, still without running water and it'll probably be that way for up to a couple of weeks until we can get the water truck up here.

Otherwise things are fine. I'm boiling and filtering snow and stockpiling water right now, the hummingbirds and small forest birds are being fed, I made it into town yesterday for supplies and I've McGyvered the shit out of this plastic toboggan into a cargo sled with a harness and a bunch of tiedown points.

I think I've also discovered the origins of skiing and snow sports, and it's probably as simple as "Help I'm going crazy with cabin fever I guess I'll just slide down this damn hill." which is what I've been doing today,. We have a proper toboggan run down the driveway now, and I just waxed up the sled and it's now scary fast.

I'm guessing this is how bobsled and luge got started, from people sledging supplies up a hill in the snow and leaving a track, then riding the sledge back down to get more supplies. Eventually you build an icy, solid track that's the exact perfect size for the sledge to stay running in, and then when you hit turns you kind of build natural banks into the track. Do that a few times and wait for it to melt and refreeze and then bam, bobsled track.

And the weather and forecast is calling for rain but I'm not currently seeing any of it.
posted by loquacious at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

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