Snow in Seattle – What Everyone Must Know

Snow in Seattle – What Everyone Must Know

It snows in Seattle, just that it is usually not buried in it. Therefore, what we mean by snow depends on the direction you’re coming from or your experience with snow, as well as the kind you’ve seen. The Pacific Ocean greatly limits the winter weather of Seattle because it is a place where temperatures remain even throughout the year. However, from time to time, cold air is pushed into the region, leading to cold spells as well as snow in Seattle.

Snow in Seattle

Key Points

Accurate weather records here started about a hundred years ago, but if were to base this on historical accounts, then the winter periods of Seattle seem to have been snowier and colder in the 19th as well as early 20th centuries.

Meteorologists have achieved greatly in forecasting the ice and snowstorms. About 80% of Puget Sound’s lowlands’ snowstorms happen each time cold air from the continent’s interior pushes itself through the Frasier Gap which is close to Bellingham and gets to a system of low-pressure coming off the ocean. If there’s a lingering of the cold front, ice and snow could stay on the ground for weeks.

Transportation is impeded by ice and snow and because the majority of economic and social activity depends on transportation, ice and snow have great impacts, most especially if it stays on roadways for many days.

Other great impacts from snow are Impacts on public safety due to the inability to get vehicles for emergency purposes where they have to go. Power outages due to the freezing of pipes as well as the peaking of the demand. Power loss as a result of extreme cold has led to some deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning; this happens, when victims try to keep themselves warm by lighting charcoal fires in their homes. Losses in the economy happening as a result of business closures, workers not being able to go to work, or advised to stay back at home with the kids when childcare facilities and schools close.

Seattle lacks dedicated snow plows. Anytime snow threatens, it becomes necessary to outfit trucks with equipment that removes snow. However, the number of trucks available for this purpose is not enough to plow all the streets in the city.

As a result of the steep topography of Seattle, during ice and snow events, it becomes very difficult to keep some streets open due to their steepness. 

In cases of extreme cold and snow, the public health in the area gives warnings to the general public about the risk involved with carbon monoxide. A campaign “Take Winter by Storm” is also put in place to educate people about preparing for winter and the safety measures required.

Occasionally, the snow that melts rapidly, has a hand in the saturation of the ground which turns into a factor that triggers landslides. This case happened last during the 1996/1997 winter.

Roofs have collapsed due to heavy load from snow, which happened recently in 1996/1997.

Does it Snow in Washington State?

Yes, it does snow in Washington State, but it varies. Asking “how much snow does Seattle get?” Seattle isn’t a place that is covered up in the snow, rather the level of the snow rises to a couple of inches. At times, it even feels like more dust is present on the ground than snow. However, since snow doesn’t happen in Seattle, the inhabitants there have even learned how to appreciate the little that comes down.

Despite this, there are some ways that Seattle interacts with its snow season that is usually not heavy. Below are some important facts about the snow in Seattle. 

The highest snow ever experienced by Seattle was 64 inches. This happened back in 1880. However, every season, the average is 5 inches snow. There are years when snow doesn’t come out at all. Other well-known snow seasons in Seattle dates back to 1950, when it received 21 inches of snow, while in 1916, it received 21.5 inches. This amount of snow dropping in Seattle is very rare.

When there’s snow, it leads to Seattle shutting down. It’s a great idea never to underestimate the effects of the little snowfall that drops in Seattle. The fact is that, with little inches of snow, the city slows or could even shut down. This could be surprising especially when we compare the city to other cities that continue their daily activities even when there are snow conditions that are deeper than that of Seattle. However, things are different for Seattle since hills surround the city, where temperatures can easily get above the freezing point.

With this, we mean that the melted snow gets frozen overnight into ice, causing most streets in the city to look incredibly dangerous. Some still move around on the bus, but extreme caution is very necessary for this scenario.

The truth is that snow has caused some problems in the city before. Some roads in Seattle are very steep and it becomes very necessary to close it down in times of snow. In 1996 and 1997, there were landslides due to the fast melting of snow, which led the ground to get saturated, which led to some disaster.

Things to do, when there’s snow in Seattle

Driving in the snow involves lots of skill. If you plan to drive around Seattle during the snow period, you have to be very careful. You must watch out for other cars and keep enough space between your car and others to prevent accidents. Also, it is advisable to avoid downhill roads, as they could be dangerous as well. Below are some tips that can keep you safe:

This is not where you should rush. In most cases, you must drive very slowly (go with a pace that is very low compared to the posted speed limit). Therefore, if there’s a need to get to a destination, make sure the extra time that will keep you on the road is factored in.

Check the treads of your tires: You should check this from time to time, so you know when they should be replaced. A great trick here is to fix in a penny with the head of Lincoln faced down. If all the heads can be seen, then it means your tires need to be replaced.

Before leaving, tune-up: A tune-up before your trip allows you to check any possible issues your car could have, which means they can be handled even before hitting the road. Having problems with brake fluid, headlights, or the battery could be a serious issue if you have to solve the problem in the middle of a Seattle road that is snowy. Ensure you’re also gassed up.

Take all your documents along: These documents include car registration, license, as well as the membership ID of any auto club. To be on the safer side, try to have all the emergency numbers available as well.

Get some sleep: You need to be very focused and concentrated when driving your car on icy roads, so ensure you are only plying the road when you’ve had a very good rest.

Get our travel route prepared: If you think it will take more time while driving slowly in snowy periods, just think of taking the wrong direction or getting lost. Ensure your Waze and MapQuest are prepared before you drive on the road.

Go through the weather forecast: In some cases, it is great to drive in periods of snow, however, there’s a need to check t be very sure it wouldn’t worsen. There might be an appointment for you to keep, but the first thing in the picture should be your safety.

In cases where your car dies, stay with it. This shelters you and makes rescuers find you easily. Don’t ever try braving a storm on foot.

Take public transport: If there’s a need to reach some places on a snowy day, don’t take your car. Rather board a bus into either Tacoma or Seattle. The drivers of these buses are more experienced, and they know what they’re doing, and in these conditions, they have a higher chance of getting you to your preferred destination.

Leaving Town

Before leaving town, you will have to pass through the mountain passes, which could be very dangerous compared to the city roads. Ensure the conditions of the roads are checked before heading there. Ensure you’ve chained up also, since you may not be allowed to pass through these roads if you don’t have them.

Avoid getting surprised by the locals. If you’re from a place where snow buries deep in, avoid staring too much at the locals in Seattle that are thrilled due to little drops of snow. Getting snow is rare, so it’s best to let them get their fun.

Once again, the amount of snow received by the city should not be underestimated. If you plan to visit Seattle, most especially in October of November, ensure you get prepared for the possible bad snow days. Ask questions like “how often does it snow in Seattle?” and “how much does it snow in Seattle?” And if you’re caught up in the snowy season while visiting, just book a hotel and then wait for conditions that will make you better instead of taking the risk of going out.

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