West Seattle snow and ice: Tuesday night (& overnight) updates

(WSB Traffic cams page HERE – links/open-closed list HERE)

WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli sent that photo from the 41st/Edmunds truck nightmare that unfolded within the past hour or so. As we wrote near the end of afternoon coverage, AVOID THAT AREA – “sheet of ice.” Just a block away, at 41st/Alaska, Christopher reports, “Alaska is wet but intersections are a mess of slush and ice.” See for yourself:

If you are just checking in for the first time in a few hours, by the way, you may find some helpful commuting/shopping information in the post/comments we just closed – see it here. One shopping note from e-mail: WSB sponsor Click! Design That Fits is open till 7 tonight in the Admiral District, and tomorrow till about 3.

6:33 PM UPDATE: And there’s news from north West Seattle, from Jackie:

To add to all the other difficulties we’re undergoing, water has been shut off on SW Lander below Admiral (map) since mid-afternoon – there’s a break or some other problem opposite SW Campbell Place. The upside is that the city had to clear at least one car’s width of snow from the road so that the repair trucks could get to the problem area!

And scanner now has word that Edmunds/California eastbound (map) is blocked. Not sure if this is a new problem, or being shut down because of the aforementioned hill woes. Just avoid the area.

6:56 PM UPDATE: Heartening news from Mary at Twilight, re: the followup we published earlier today on their decision to try to turn the art theft (yesterday’s original story here) into something good: A commenter asked when Twilight will be open tomorrow, and she answered quickly, “I will be here 11-3 with jingle bells on! I may try to get here earlier, but call first 933.2444. Thanks for all the support! we filled a box with toys today! We are still collecting for the West Seattle Food Bank too.” Twilight is on SW Alaska just west of Easy Street. Meantime, for those of you awaiting UPS deliveries – a truck just showed up on California south of Thistle (map) a moment ago, so they’re still out there. And if you’d like a look at Admiral/California, RealLowVibe‘s Twitter stream included the link to this recent photo. And shortly afterward – a snowplow appears, in this pic. ** Listening to city crews on the scanner – 42nd/Oregon (map) also “ice-packed.”

7:11 PM UPDATE: From Genesee Hill, Creighton sends word (and picture) of a postal truck’s woes at 49th/Genesee (map): “Poor guy is trying his best to get up the street, after delivering a package about half way up the hill, but his chains aren’t enough. He’s just sliding around. With the help of some generous neighbors they’re about to attempt a push.”

8:08 PM UPDATE: Scott C sends this link to the latest radar animation with the alert: “It’s coming.” And from Christopher, video of the stuck-truck trouble he covered earlier on the back side of Jefferson Square:

Happy ending! (But how about those SPARKS?)

8:27 PM UPDATE: Scanner says there’s a vehicle blocking northbound traffic on Delridge at Orchard. Also, as we just wrote in comments, our request to SDOT for the official city statement on the no-salt controversy (and for some more info on the grader that appeared today) has been answered, and we just published it here.

8:59 PM UPDATE: Update from Creighton on the postal truck on Genesee Hill (see above):

Mini saga over just now: The neighbor’s efforts to push such a large truck uphill proved futile. A USPS tow truck was called in and hooked a cable to the front of the stuck postal truck to spin it 180 degrees downhill. Wondering whose packages didn’t get delivered (albeit with valiant effort!) tonight?

And Ingrid in Sunrise Heights tells the tale of the commute from hell, getting home from downtown:

I arrived at a bus stop at 2nd and Columbia at about 6pm tonight, and there was a woman there who¹d been waiting since 3:30! We watched several full buses go by ­- apparently, Metro wasn¹t running articulated buses tonight. Several of us ended up waiting at the bar, Contour, and rushing out to find each bus full, only to go back inside. I eventually got a ride from my partner. I had no idea it could be so hard to get home!

9:20 PM UPDATE: Sage K has more on the Delridge/Orchard (intersection by Arco/Home Depot/etc.) problem mentioned above:

“Just came home and there is a gas tanker truck stuck in the northbound lane of Delridge at Orchard. It was attempting to turn into the Shell station there. They are attempting to dig it out and have people directing traffic around it. Don’t know how long it will be there.

9:54 PM UPDATE: The county has updated its list of closures. Newspaper columnists are starting to sound the horn for marching on City Hall; there’s one thing we’re reminded of, reading the comments that follow this P-I column — We haven’t seen much of Hizzoner since things got ugly. Back on Saturday, he led a “briefing” at 5 pm, then another one at 7 pm (without saying much, as we noted toward the start of our Saturday night coverage), and since we are on the media-advisory list, we knew about those, but we haven’t seen anything since. Same thing happened during the days of powerlessness after the December 2006 windstorm — not even an “I feel your pain” type tour. If we were him, we’d have a news conference on the steps of the house that, as Gina pointed out in afternoon comments, is on a street as unplowed as many of ours, and just say, hey, we know you’re ticked off, we’re trying to do better day by day and we’ll figure out what to do better next time. Honesty helps too. /soapbox

10:12 PM UPDATE: And here is yet another example of the problem – another video clip from WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli showing the crazy road conditions in The Junction – West Seattle’s “downtown”:

Listening to the scanner for the nth hour, the drinking-game phrase can now switch from “sheet of ice” to “kids throwing snowballs at cars.” Police somewhere out there being dispatched to just such a call, again.

10:24 PM UPDATE: Our friends at Beacon Hill Blog reported, via Twitter, they just got a package delivered by UPS – after 9 pm. So if you’re waiting, there’s still hope.

MIDNIGHT: This thread stays up overnight – like Tuesday, our morning post will open at 4 am, and we’ll be on live-update watch by 5:30-ish. Going to go update the links/open/close post now, since there’s a fair amount of info available about what’s planned Wednesday (as in, today).

12:15 AM UPDATE: The Times has posted the followup to what we’re sure was the smash hit story of their site on Tuesday — the saltlessness shocker — today, why (some) environmentalists say “huh? sand is worse!”

12:33 AM UPDATE: As for Cliff Mass‘s latest post (Tuesday night), he doesn’t seem to know what’s going to happen with the weather today either.

1:10 AM NOTE: Not West Seattle, but — 3 am is when our favorite Christmas website, NORAD Tracks Santa, goes live. If you’re wide awake and looking to get in the holiday mood, you’ll find it here.

99 Replies to "West Seattle snow and ice: Tuesday night (& overnight) updates"

  • dd December 23, 2008 (6:13 pm)

    This (below) is almost as good as Metro’s update from Sunday:

    “we can’t put up tomorrow’s schedule today, it will confuse people”

    Or this from the “Trash Patrol”:
    We might pick up your trash Monday or Tuesday, but if we don’t pick it up Monday, take it back in”

    Yes, I’m paraphrasing, but c’mon SDOT, WHAT part of the city is cleared down to pavement? Have you been downtown?

    2:57 PM UPDATE: The latest official news release from SDOT:

    The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has cleared primary arterials to exposed pavement and is now focusing on secondary roads. Feeder and collector routes across Seattle such as Third Ave. NW in Ballard, Fifteenth Ave. S. on Beacon Hill, SW Thistle Street in West Seattle, and Ravenna Avenue NE in Ravenna will be repeatedly plowed, sanded and de-iced.

    I know they are working hard but do they go anywhere but around the Stadium?

  • James December 23, 2008 (6:15 pm)

    That about sums it up.

  • iggy December 23, 2008 (6:15 pm)

    High praise to the Morgan Thriftway. I’ve walked over there every day and they have always had plenty of fresh produce, milk, eggs, meat, etc. as well as their usual friendly, efficient service. The only item I wanted that they are out of is Thomas’ English Muffins (I love comfort food when I’m snowed in. I grew up in NY on Thomas’).

  • Peaches December 23, 2008 (6:17 pm)

    Anyone know if the 54 local has been running at all on Roxbury? Trying to figure out if I need to hike up to 35th to jump on the Magical Mystery Tour that is Metro these days.

  • Andrea December 23, 2008 (6:18 pm)

    Well, just got done finishing my shopping! Everything was perfect, people are in great moods, I just wish that the cuty would at least sand Othello SW off of Highland Park way! Merry Christmas to all, I have enjoyed reading the comments from the snow updates all week!

  • iggy December 23, 2008 (6:18 pm)

    One of the TV news commentators had a good point. Though we generally want Seattle to be environmentally friendly, hence our usual ban on salting streets, we have now reached a State of Emergency phase where Public Safety should take precedence. Think of all those people having to miss doctor appointments or not able to get to a pharmacy, as two examples.

  • Darren December 23, 2008 (6:21 pm)

    Or how about people that can’t make it to work(like me) because of the roads. I’m not getting paid for the days I miss…!!!!

  • MissK December 23, 2008 (6:25 pm)

    What are the roads and parking lot like at Westwood Village? I live on Delridge (North of Home Depot) and the main road seems fine, except you can’t use the turn lane or park on the side of the road. (gotta love snow banks) This so sucks!! When will the madness end?

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (6:28 pm)

    My co-publisher went at mid-afternoon and we posted photos in the morning/afternoon post … he said the entrance by McDonald’s was the worst. As for when the madness will end … this afternoon’s NWS forecast suggests Friday … but be sure to clear your storm drains and downspouts for whenever the massive melt happens …

  • Pablo December 23, 2008 (6:29 pm)

    My gf and I just got back from successfully saving our car from the clutches of Northgate. We caught a 120 at nearly 2pm when we finally had a cluster of them come rolling down Delridge. Once we were downtown, catching a 41 up to Northgate was easy in the tunnel.
    Once we were up in Northgate we stopped into the mall to grab some more tights for her since JC Penny’s is running a decent sale and that place was busy but nowhere near as busy as it would normally be 2 days from Christmas. Then there was, of course, a brief stopover at the liquor store which was packed and then off to QFC to rescue the car.
    The car was buried in a few feet of snow but the nice girl at QFC let us borrow a shovel and she only let me do the work myself when I insisted several times. It took me about an hour of digging while the gf ran into the store to get the rest of the ingredients to make hot buttered rum tonight but I was able to get the poor little guy out. The drive down Nortgate was fairly treacherous but it was at least passable enough that I was able to keep our Metro going with no chains but it wasn’t pleasant going down the road with that much traffic trying desperately to stay in their ruts and not get stuck.
    I5 and the bridge were both perfect but keep an eye out for broken chains because we saw a few. Some people either don’t realize or believe that you really need to take them off if you’re going road speed over bare pavement. They’ll break and the damage can range from popping your tires on a good day to wrapping themselves around your axle on a bad day.
    North Delridge was pretty decent. The only real trouble is the fact that people are turning back into jerks and I’d hoped that they’d at least wait for the snow to melt. I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised. I saw a car almost get creamed because (gasp) it took a little extra time for them to turn out onto the road and the truck decided the safe thing to do was to keep going way to fast and blare their horn. Another guy was met with a chorus of angry horns for slowing down to allow someone to get out onto the road. Also, watch out for the usual people trying to gun it wherever the road opens up into two lanes so they can get those precious few spots ahead in the line. Normal behavior for Delridge but it goes from just being stupid to being potentially deadly when it gets like this.

  • Krystal December 23, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    on that intersection in the picture below, I have seen a lot of people failing to make it up, and this is the second truck incident I have seen (the earlier involving one truck around 8:30am). I think it is pretty unnecessary for anyone besides trucks to be using it when Alaska is fine. I think the trucks have to go this way to get into the Safeway loading area properly, but I may be wrong.

  • snowedin December 23, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    Did you happen to see the Seattle Times cover story on local businesses doing well right now? Several of the pics were from SW California Ave shops! So great to see a boost in support of our local shops!

    Local shops good. Malls bad!
    (continue to) support local business.

  • toodels December 23, 2008 (6:35 pm)

    It’s horrible the snow. I stay at home and lock myself in a closet and never go out.

  • Bob Loblaw December 23, 2008 (6:36 pm)

    Out and about all day. Roads maintained by WSDOT are perfect. Roads in the city are hit and miss — mostly miss. It’s like a bomb-ravaged runway out there in spots, including downtown Seattle.
    Listening to talk radio I learned something I didn’t know, and I’ve lived here a long time: WSDOT uses salt on their roads and has plows with metal blade tips (unless the 710 Kiro guy was wrong). Having seen the difference between city (samd and rubber tips) and state roads I am now much more in favor of salt.
    Sorry, environment, but the cost in lost sales for local busineses, work hours, emergency response time, etc., outweighs what the salt can do to Puget Sound, IMO.
    Imagine this has been quite the topic here on WSB. I’ll claim laziness again in not wanting to read through thousands of posts.

  • JH December 23, 2008 (6:47 pm)

    Toodels, you might as well clean your closet while you’re in there!

  • Amos December 23, 2008 (6:49 pm)

    Just took me 1 hour and 50 minutes to drive home from the Polyclinic on Broadway – down Madison, over to Columbia and home to the High Point area via 99. Madison was absolutely horrendous – the city should be embarrassed!

  • Pablo December 23, 2008 (6:50 pm)

    Part of the reason why city plows have to use the rubber tips is because we have raised road markers. In places where they get more snow they use recessed road markers because the steel blades will pop em right off.
    As far as the salt/chemical debate goes, I’m gonna stay out of it for now. Emotions are running high and I think the time for that debate will come later. Unfortunately, people tend to have short memories and stuff like this gets pushed off the table for whatever other issue of the day people are angry about. I sincerely hope, though, that Seattle and Metro sit down and develop some actual contingency plans because while it may not happen that often, it certainly will happen again.

  • Johnston December 23, 2008 (6:53 pm)

    Even salting the roads wouldn’t help me right now…my Neon has 5″ of ground clearance and my driveway has 8″ of snow! :( Oh well, Roxbury Safeway is walking distance, and I’m warm and generally happy. Hope I can make Christmas dinner at my brother’s house (Marysville…we’ll see…) Patiently awaiting the thaw!

  • CarolPB December 23, 2008 (6:55 pm)

    i don’t understand how salt is more harmful than chemicals!

  • Artemesia December 23, 2008 (6:56 pm)

    Echoing everyone else- WSB rocks!!!! The info and dialogue on here has been a huge help over the last week and I am very appreciative of all who contributed.

    I need to ask if anyone has been up on First Hill in Seattle in the last two days. I have elderly parents that I need to pick up and bring over to WS tomorrow and am wondering what the roads are like. Since they live a block away from HarborView at Terry Ave. and Terrace, I’m hoping that James or perhaps Yesler or Broadway are open? Any info?

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (6:58 pm)

    There is another take on the salt etc. issue here:

    I may not hear back on this tonight but I e-mailed our SDOT contact and asked if there’s an official city response to this article which has stirred up so much discussion today. I personally am wondering if it really is only an environmental issue. I recall covering the recent reignition of the beach-fire ban brouhaha and at first it was interpreted as an environmental issue and then the city cited a host of other reasons.

  • KSJ December 23, 2008 (6:59 pm)

    That’s what I’m wondering too CarolPB, if this has been discussed in the forums or elsewhere I’m not finding it. Why no salt? Deicer can’t be good for the environment, it sure chewed up my pup’s paws.

  • mar3c December 23, 2008 (7:05 pm)

    pablo: i was thinking the same thing about overconfident/underskilled/reckless.drivers.
    to those in suburban assault vehicles who feel invincible: the closer you tailgate, the slower i’ll go. go ahead and blow the horn. i’ll just turn up the stereo.
    i’m an experienced snow/ice driver, but seattle’s streets suck right now for those of us with smaller cars. it ain’t necessarily the lack of traction; it’s the moonscape-ice ridge-oil pan killers that slow us down.
    so be patient, and we’ll *all* get where we’re going without getting insurance companies involved.

  • FriendO'Dingus December 23, 2008 (7:05 pm)

    I’m with Johnston on this one. I am at home warm, happy, and just glad I have television and the computer to keep me company. Much much better than two years ago when I lost power and heat for three days straight due to the windstorm. God help some of you folks if the big earthquake ever hits. Being able to get a double mocha whatever is NOT an emergency situation, however much some of you convince yourself it is…

  • iggy December 23, 2008 (7:09 pm)

    I’m wondering if the city will excuse overdue library book and video/CD fines, since there has been no way for many of us to get there. I’m thinking the individual branch librarians have the authority to excuse a fine by entering a suitable comment into the database.

  • AD December 23, 2008 (7:17 pm)

    I finally made it out of West Seattle this evening. The worst part of my drive out was The Junction and driving down Alaska, infront of the bank of America. My car was sliding all over. It scared me so much I felt like throwing up! I had totally expected the Junction to be clear and have no problem…

  • Preggo December 23, 2008 (7:18 pm)

    Artemesia, I was up on First Hill and Capitol Hill today. Disturbingly bad conditions there. Yesler is messy particularly around the Terrace; ridges and ruts and puddles, not fun. We were rocking and rolling and skidding. Broadway is astonishingly bad, even in front of Swedish!!! John was no fun either. Had to go to Group Health, so on the way back I took Madison and then went to 12th. Madison was okay, 12th was worse than it was on Friday, but once I made it to Rainier it was pretty smooth to Dearborn, I-5, WSB, home. Just be careful up on First Hill. I think the lower part of Yesler headed to Pioneer Square is closed, fyi, and rightfully so.

  • Preggo December 23, 2008 (7:19 pm)

    Iggy, I’ve been wondering the same thing while staring at a stack of books. Haven’t made it to the library yet and hope to as we thaw out. Seems they should allow a grace period.

  • dd December 23, 2008 (7:21 pm)

    I have been back & forth between WS & The Hill a few times over the past couple of days.
    Your best bet is I5 to Madison. It has one of the least steepest hills of the main streets. Heading North is fine. Broadway is fine. Although with most streets I have seen, heading North is clearer than heading south. Drive Slow and you’ll be fine.

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (7:22 pm)

    Ig and Preg, I’ll check on that.

  • MargL December 23, 2008 (7:23 pm)

    re: library books – I’m hoping I can renew them online! Won’t work of they have a hold on them, tho’. :-/

  • Big Al (No, Not THAT One) December 23, 2008 (7:25 pm)

    OK, I’m a regular reader and I’ve enjoyed the great comments and collective wisdom I’v seen here — thank you all, most particularly WSB! Now, here’s my question: when a DOT truck with a plowblade on front drives down a street covered with a thick layer of snow — say, most ANYWHERE in West Seattle, ought the truck (a) drop the blade and CLEAR THE ROAD OF THE SNOW, (b) drive on by, or (c) call for a tow? If you answered “a” then you know what the $#@!&!! DOT drivers do when they make an excursion down Roxbury in West Seattle (well, the border between WS and WC). ARGH! WHY????!!!! DROP THE BLADE!!!!!!!

  • Big Al (No, Not THAT One) December 23, 2008 (7:26 pm)

    Sorry, the answer is actually “b” — they do nothing. At least, that’;s what I saw about a half hour ago on Roxbury.

  • Scott December 23, 2008 (7:29 pm)

    Okay, so salt hurts Puget Sound?
    Has anyone remembered that Puget Sound is filled with SALT water?

  • Artemesia December 23, 2008 (7:32 pm)

    Thanks to Preggo and dd! Very helpful info.I’ll keep it all in mind – I may actually have to go there on my way back from work at the zoo but after today’s very interesting bus ride home, I’ll probably take I-5 since the state seems to be able to clear roads just fine. Of course, who knows what we’ll wake up to tomorrow so it might just be a whole new ball game :)

  • elikapeka December 23, 2008 (7:36 pm)

    I can understand not using salt on a regular basis, because it is awful on cars – I can’t speak to the environmental difference between it and chemical de-icers. But how bad could it be to use it once every 5-10 years when something like this happens? I mean, isn’t Puget Sound salt water anyway?

    If Mayor Nickels isn’t careful, this could do him in for his next re-election. It isn’t a matter of inconvenience now, it’s becoming a matter of public safety. When a city is gridlocked for a couple of days it’s one thing. We’re going on a week now. Deliveries of fuel and food are affected, people who need to get medicine and treatments such as chemo or dialysis are affected, and heaven help you if you have a life-threatening medical emergency. As one of the news stations said tonight, let the mayor take a ride down one of these rutted streets in the back of an ambulance.

    There seems to be a serious lack of leadership in this region. Information is not disseminated in a timely and organized matter. Each agency seems to do its own thing. It was the same thing in the windstorm, the earthquake, and the other big snowstorms we’ve had. People in government hear talk things to death, but little seems to get accomplished, and things don’t work any better the next time.

    Off my soapbox now. Sorry, I must be getting cranky!

  • Mollsworth December 23, 2008 (7:36 pm)

    I also wanted to sing the praises of Thriftway. Much like PCC, I feel better about the food I buy and the shopping experience when I buy it there. The people that work there are so wonderful and strangeley it seems like everyone that works there seems to know a little sign language, which is definitely appreciated by us!
    We also happened to run into a cheerful ho-ho-hoful Santa Claus. I can’t remember who was asking about West Seattle Santa appearances earlier, but he will be back at the WS Thriftway tomorrow morning between 9-1.

  • Chuck and Sally's Van Man December 23, 2008 (7:37 pm)

    After picking up and driving workmates to work this week in my 4Runner (4×4) I finally had my first Oh-Sh*t moment this evening. Trying to avoid the backup on California heading south toward the junction, I took the side street that parelells the park lot behind Jack’s, Matador, etc. Creeping slowly down the hill toward Alaska I had that “I’m not stopping” feeling when I fully applied the brakes. Sliding sideways in the direction of parked cars is just the worst feeling. Luckily I came to a rest before a collision, and the green light came at just the rigth time. Whew! I’ll take snow over slush over ice any day–the roads are now at their most treacherous IMHO. May finally just call it in tomorrow.


  • Carole December 23, 2008 (7:37 pm)

    I walked to Admiral Library today to return 2 books due yesterday and they said they weren’t collecting a fine, because lots of people couldn’t get out. Don’t know about Blockbuster, so made sure I got the movies back in time!

  • mar3c December 23, 2008 (7:44 pm)

    hey, big al: i’m working at a job site by boeing field, and some idiot in a backhoe was attempting to scrape ice/snow from the pavement with his loader bucket today. the result? a *very* slick sheet of compacted ice/snow that was impossible to walk across, much less drive on.
    i’m guessing sdot knows a thing or two about scraping streets, although i admit it seems like they know very little.
    as a blue collar joe, i have to hand it to them: they’ve been out every day, working three shifts. they’re probably as exhausted and frustrated as anyone in the city. i don’t wish them any ill will.
    city gubmint planning and preparation, on the other hand…

  • Preggo December 23, 2008 (7:49 pm)

    Thanks so much for checking on the library question, WSB! Carole, that does sound promising.

  • Lytepipe December 23, 2008 (7:52 pm)

    Admiral west of California has just been graded down to the pavement. There is now a fairly high burm in the center lane now though.

  • cjboffoli December 23, 2008 (7:52 pm)

    It seems strange to me that Victoria can pollute the Sound by pumping raw sewage into it with impunity (which they do year-round) but that Seattle cannot respond to a rare snow event by salting its roads. And that’s without even mentioning the horrible chemicals that constantly percolate out of the Duwamish into Elliott Bay.

  • alison December 23, 2008 (8:02 pm)

    We just went on a walk around Admiral and California and saw the plows out. I think it’s the first ones we have seen in a awhile.Also, the Chevron seems to be out of gas, looks like they have diesel though.

  • ScottA December 23, 2008 (8:08 pm)

    I’ve been listening to the police/fire radio scanner feed from the KOMO website for many hours these past few days. So many city staff are doing what they can to keep people safe but it’s obviously very challenging to keep up.

    What I find a bit frustrating listening to the scanner is that the police, fire, SDOT and Metro don’t seem to have a central clearinghouse for information and dispatch. I don’t expect perfect coordination (that would require Seattle Studies and nothing would get done) but some things like getting icy streets closed quickly, tracking where shelter beds are available, requesting plows/sanding for critical routes, etc could be much improved.

    Dispatchers seem to rely on calling their counterparts at other agencies and hoping someone answers the phone (often not) instead of being able to have a representative in (ideally) the same dispatch center. Definite room for improvement!

  • Johnston December 23, 2008 (8:08 pm)

    I agree cjb. A few years ago I had an outbreak of Giant Hogweed in the yard. (VERY nasty noxious weed with poisonous irritating sap!) I got some Roundup and killed it off. I hate Roundup! It’s a nasty chemical and I would never use it unless I absolutely had to! But, it works! Haven’t used it since, haven’t had to…but sometimes the situation calls for it, just like salt! Seems to me we might only need to salt the roads every few years when we get these big storms. I can’t believe the city refuses to use an effective de-icer on the rare situations that call for it!

  • homesweethome December 23, 2008 (8:16 pm)

    Any other city in the US would have cleared roads by now including neighborhood streets – salt isn’t the enemy, it keeps commerce moving and people on the go and in a city lacking underground rail service its critical. I hope the next election for city council, mayor, etc brings us some forward thinking choices. Salt once every 10 years or so seems like a no-brainer, as does non-bus transit. Its beyond me to expect a city to keep moving when all we have is a bus fleet that is attempting to drive on compact snow and ice.

  • CMP December 23, 2008 (8:17 pm)

    I just returned from a trip downtown and it’s nice to see the roads over there are in just as bad condition as over here. I think today is by far the worst I have seen and I’m dreading the drive to work tomorrow b/c my car has had it with the ruts, bumps and chains. I saw a plow last night on California Ave by Rite Aid but you’d never believe it, given how horrible the road looks. Bust out the salt already SDOT.

  • Pat December 23, 2008 (8:20 pm)

    A grader and bucket are making their way South on California Ave SW just reached Alaska. They are scrapping down to the pavement. YAY! The main arterial in W Seattle is actually usable now. Arts a boy Nickelsie!

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (8:30 pm)

    Speaking of the grader, I just got an answer to my question about it – and request for the official city statement on the no-salt situation – and have published them separately so they don’t get lost. Keep talking about it here or wherever you like, but you can read it here:

  • Preggo December 23, 2008 (8:32 pm)

    I think I’m having a Pavlovian response from the radar image in that link. I see snow coming, I start to wheeze. Still hoping I don’t go into labor till the roads are better. After driving to Cap Hill today, I’m shuddering over the forecast. And I so wanted to get a lot of errands done before our new arrival–can’t do that, and worry we can’t make it safely to GHC if labor begins prior to the due date (Jan. 1). I second (third, fourth, infinity) bringing out the salt.

  • JayDee December 23, 2008 (8:34 pm)

    OK, second try. Salt on the roads does corrode vehicles. But not when used on an emergency basis. Take the car or truck to a car wash afterwords and most harm is alleviated.

    Second, what environment are we protecting? The sewer-run salmon? Nearly all of downtown is combined sewer outfall, so it is unlikely that we are harming those mythical fish. Secondly, those areas with salmon runs suffer from all the “chemicals” that hit the urban streams after the aptly, if disturbingly named, “first flush” in the fall. A trace of sodium chloride is not a concern. The molasses used in the alternate solution actually promotes “biochemical oxygen demand” which is more likely to cause “environmental” damage than a simple salt.

    Saying you are protecting the environment is a feel-good statement, and PR, not science.

  • pigeonmom December 23, 2008 (8:34 pm)

    @ ferry dock, need to go to Safeway. Anyone been up Barton, 35th or Rox lately?

  • Sage K December 23, 2008 (8:44 pm)

    The roads are really horrible out there. Drove to Westwood Village and the parking lot there is a rutted mess. Henderson was easy up and down. But Delridge is bare in spots and in others rutted making it feel like bumper cars out there when a side wall hits an ice rut.

    Also there is a tanker truck stuck in the north bound lanes of Delridge at Orchard. It was attempting to turn into the Shell station there. They have people directing traffic around it.

    Please be careful out there!

  • Sue December 23, 2008 (8:47 pm)

    Huge RANT on Metro today. I saw a 54X this morning so raced to get the next one as a good faith effort, after being stuck inside for 5 days. That commmute was easy; this evening was anything but. I waited 2 hours for a bus – 54, 54X, 55 or 119. A 54 and 55 both came early in the 2 hours, so packed you couldn’t get on. in that 2 hour period, only one 120 came by as well. My husband got them on the phone to see if they’d been rerouted or cancelled – they said no, they’re coming. After 2 hours of waiting and freezing, I overheard 2 women suggesting getting a cab to West Seattle. I offered to share it with them. We walked to a local hotel and talked a town car driver into taking us – he was relucant to go to West Seattle, but we assured him that getting to the junction would not be a problem. Cost us $45 (before tip) for the 3 of us. A big RAVE to these 2 wonderful women who shared their cab with me. 3 hours to get home, and would’ve taken longer if not by cab. My husband said a bus never came down Fauntleroy the whole time he was here. I will not do this again tomorrow. The roads downtown are DISGUSTING, walking is treacherous, and buses with chains are getting stuck trying to get to the curb, so they’re stopping several feet out and making people navigate water/slush-filled potholes to get to them. Truly awful.

  • Gina December 23, 2008 (8:53 pm)


    Some ways to renew your library books.

    I am pretty sure the library will waive fines on items due during the weather events of the past two weeks. It may be iffy if the items were due before Thanksgiving…or if the items aren’t brought back until Martin Luther King Jr. Day…

    Children’s materials do not have overdue fines, but if they are more than 40 days overdue a replacement fee is charged until the items are returned. Hopefully the snow will not last 40 days!

    The Seattle Public Library will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

  • Let Me Out December 23, 2008 (8:55 pm)

    Didn’t I see something on the local news last month about a dairy farm donating salt (a by product from their dairy) to the DOT, to salt the interstates? Why would the mayor want something like salt that is cheaper than chemicals and even possibly free?

  • miws December 23, 2008 (9:00 pm)

    The road grader just slowly passed my place, California in the block of Thriftway, going south.


    Must have gone to the next intersection, (Holly St.) backed up to around Aaron’s Bike Shop, then headed forward again, with a front loader following.



  • cjboffoli December 23, 2008 (9:01 pm)

    Johnston: Have you ever tried gin? It is a very effective, environmentally friendly herbicide. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but weeds never grow under Juniper trees. And juniper berries are used to make gin. Just get yourself a gallon of cheap gin at the liquor store and give it a try. At the very least if it fails as an herbicide you can drink the leftovers. And if you’re sufficiently toasted you might not care so much about the nasty Giant Hogweed. Everybody wins!

  • def December 23, 2008 (9:01 pm)

    ScottA wrote: What I find a bit frustrating listening to the scanner is that the police, fire, SDOT and Metro don’t seem to have a central clearinghouse for information and dispatch. … Dispatchers seem to rely on calling their counterparts at other agencies and hoping someone answers the phone (often not) instead of being able to have a representative in (ideally) the same dispatch center. Definite room for improvement!

    I don’t have any details on how it works, but Seattle *does* have an EOC (emergency operations center) that has been up and running since the storm first hit. I’d have thought this would be the place to collect and distribute info between the city agencies and liason with the state/county agencies. (In fact, the EOC is housed in the brand-new fire station 10: http://www.seattle.gov/fleetsfacilities/firelevy/facilities/fs10/10.htm)

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (9:03 pm)

    From what I know about it, I think EOC is working at top level – but I would echo some of what Scott A reports, since I’ve been listening to the scanner practically round the clock. Although I have to say county and private agencies (like, last week, school bus companies), which we also have on our scanner, have their challenges too. We have been lobbying for more EOC info access to the media too. The news releases are nice but rather sanitized.

  • robt December 23, 2008 (9:04 pm)

    I wonder if the mayor will dare show his face again at his favorite starbucks on Admiral? Probably will send his handlers in for him.

  • Johnston December 23, 2008 (9:08 pm)

    cjb: Didn’t know that! But, got cited by the county for the Hogweed, and that stuff is truly little-shop-of-horrors nasty. Grows about 6″ a day! Seeds can germinate for 7 years! Get the sap on your skin, and if exposed to sunlight, deep blistering lesions develop! Sorry, but if that s**t ever comes back, I’m calling in the big guns! For the crabgrass, I’m gonna try the cheap gin! Thanks!

  • bcoy December 23, 2008 (9:10 pm)

    We just got back from dinner at Talarico’s and we saw the grader followed by a caterpillar scraping the ice clear in the junction. It was just one lane and the ice was stacking up in the center of the road.

  • JanS December 23, 2008 (9:16 pm)

    I drove with a friend through the junction earlier around 5pm going south to the Morgan Junction. I was appalled at the state of the streets in our main business area between Oregon and Edmunds. Nice that they’ve finally gotten to clearing it off, although not early enough for our bumpy ride. And, those on foot? There are crosswalks at the corners AND mid-block in both blocks…please use them instead of attempting to cross wherever you damned well please. These big hunks of metal called cars are having enough trouble without having to dodge you….common sense seems to have taken a vacation…

  • miws December 23, 2008 (9:17 pm)

    Road grader and his front loader buddy are now going northbound in my block!



  • Magpie December 23, 2008 (9:18 pm)

    Ah, once again a horrendous commute, but less horrendous than last night. Got to Virginia just as a 54 pulled away, waited over an hour for the next one (I think it was around 7 something that it came), got to the junction and about 20 minutes later a 55 came from town. The bus was crammed and I was really annoyed at the people who get on a full bus and then expect it to stop downtown after a block to let them off from the back where there are dozens of people standing..ever heard of walking a block? (Sorry, had to get over my rant)..people are definitely more cranky as the days have gone on…Macy’s was packed when I walked by. I’m off work at 1 tomorrow and fixing dinner, hope I make it home to do it.

    Oh, and Amazon fresh cancelled my dinner order that I made 2 weeks ago with delivery tomorrow at 8 am, so with my 30 people coming for dinner on Christmas and no car and no food, I am relying on the kindness of family members with SUV’s to pick up the vittles and make it to my house..no honey baked ham, but in a pinch, I guess I can serve spaghetti. I guess the most important thing is family and getting together. The poor woman at Amazon fresh was extremely apologetic (and probably happy that she could leave a message and not talk to a very frustrated person). I would hate to have her job right now!!

  • Magpie December 23, 2008 (9:20 pm)

    Oh, and another thing..while waiting for the bus there must have been 10 buses with Metro base on them..would have been nice if they would have been able to change their signs and come to my neighborhood!! (And again, 6 120’s with no one on them between about 6 and 6:30..then none after that)

  • M December 23, 2008 (9:27 pm)

    If the EOC is up and operational at the top level now, what about when something really serious happens, like an earthquake or volcanic activity?

  • ScottA December 23, 2008 (9:34 pm)

    M – exactly what I’m thinking re:earthquake. A few minutes ago a police officer asked for a street closure sign and was told by the dispatcher that he needs to go to his precinct (or he could go to Charles Street maintenance center) and pick up his own signs. This is typical of what I’m hearing. It’s incredible to think that an officer would need to do this errand. SDOT or some other non-sworn, non-gun toting staff should be able to take care of this or maybe call National Barricade and have them put up some signs.

    The EOC seems like a high level press release writing office.

  • Johnston December 23, 2008 (9:36 pm)

    Magpie: As a (long ago) Metro driver here’s an insight on how it all works: Those buses were done for the day. That’s it! They’re going back to base! Sure, they could change their signs, but then the drivers get fired for going off route. The structure of Metro and the driver’s union means that there will never be that kind of last minute change in service. Metro is going to do its best to keep the published schedule. Period. If Metro doesn’t authorize it and the driver does it they get fired. If Metro asks the driver to do something they aren’t trained to do and there’s an accident, the union sticks up for the driver. There will never be the kind of emergency changes in service that I agree would be very helpful unless the county and the union can come together and find a way to make it happen…and that is a very steep, slick hill!

  • miws December 23, 2008 (9:38 pm)

    robt, Maybe the Baristas at SBux should pre-freeze (and I mean good and hard solid freeze) Hizzoner’s usual beverage of choice to present to him, or his handlers the next time he comes in! ;)


    And then, ask if he’d like some salt with it! :D



  • cathy December 23, 2008 (9:48 pm)

    Just had another tow truck in front of our house. A car had slid off the roadway and down the embankment (what used to be the grassy median) separating the two lanes of traffic. Luckily the guy got pulled out before he slid all the way into the oncoming traffic lane.

    Earlier in the day a delivery truck had to back the wrong way down the street but swerved off the road into a neighbor’s yard. They had to get a tow truck to pull him out as well.

    I wish they would just go ahead and close the street.

    Oh, and my traffic cones magically reappeared.

  • karen December 23, 2008 (9:59 pm)

    I’m thinking about heading to Fred Meyer to compete some last minute holiday shopping. I’m coming from the Westwood Village area – any thoughts?
    I’m reading all these posts and feeling kind of conflicted about going now!

    Cheers for WSB keeping us updated. I get better news here than on TV!!

  • PP December 23, 2008 (10:01 pm)

    Shout out again to WSB for the awesome job keeping the rest of us moderately sane.

    Still taking names of volunteers to help out with the WSB post snow fiesta….

    email me at seattleamiga@yahoo.com

  • PP December 23, 2008 (10:14 pm)

    They name hurricanes and tropical storms, I think we ought to name this nightmare…Any ideas?

  • artemesia December 23, 2008 (10:21 pm)

    How about “Winter Storm Gregory”? or, as the tv media hyped the first leg “Thundersnow” Nickels”?

  • Sue December 23, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    Magpie, AmazonFresh just cancelled my order for tomorrow – fourth cancellation of the same order since the storms started. The earliest they say they can now deliver to me is on Sunday, 5 days from now. Christmas dinner for us looks like gardenburgers and dried beans. :(

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    FWIW that wasn’t hype, it really was thundersnow – there were two lightning flashes and loud thunder when it first started, whatever morning that was (I seriously have lost track of time) … Karen, I hear NOTHING but bad things about driving conditions all over, out there, via the scanner, so unless you are totally fearless and equipped with 4WD, I wouldn’t do it. But that’s just me – TR

  • Krystal December 23, 2008 (10:30 pm)

    This is what has been hard for me: loss of income (I am an independent contractor). I complain when I have too much work, then I complain when I can’t work! I am sure some of you may feel my pain, but I came to terms with it a few day ago. An unexpected 6 day vacation? Who cares if Christmas isn’t going to be perfect or my packages haven’t arrived or I can’t make it out of my parking lot?! When was the last time I enjoyed a vacation that wasn’t full of people to see and places to travel to? I am very thankful to have unexpected time off–and my apartment is exceptionally clean!

  • Vickie December 23, 2008 (10:33 pm)

    Snowplows (2 of ’em!) just spotted heading north on California between Charlestown and Spokane Streets…

  • Magpie December 23, 2008 (10:33 pm)

    Thanks Johnston, I’m always concerned when I send in a commendation about a driver that if they do something out of the ordinary, they will get punished. I did, however, once have a Seattle DOT driver parked with his seat back napping in full snore photo that was time stamped and sent to the Mayor’s office (it was 8 am in the morning) and they really did seem concerned and thanked me. I actually took a photo of the license number, too. Apparently he was supposed to be doing something else.
    What I don’t understand is what are the 60 percent of metro drivers doing if the fleet is only at 40 percent? I would think the other drivers would want to get paid or are they getting paid anyway?

  • Magpie December 23, 2008 (10:38 pm)

    ARGGHHH, I just looked at the doppler before going to bed…looks like some more of this (expletive) is coming our way!! Sue, maybe you can walk to PCC and get something.

    I was lucky, I had someone go to Safeway who can probably make it over here on Christmas…it might not be exactly what I wanted, but it will do. I had already picked up my prime rib at Don and Joe’s, but hubby’s family gets ham (it’s too expensive to feed them otherwise…)

  • fiz December 23, 2008 (10:56 pm)

    Will the DUMBASS in the dark blue Toyota pickup or SUV that tailgated me down California from Edmunds to Morgan at 11:00 a.m. today stand up and take a bow? Did you REALLY think that would make me speed up, even though my SUV was in 4WD drive and low gear and still skating on the California Slip N’Slide?

    Get a clue! Whatever your unimportant business, it is not worth other peoples’ safety.

  • Johnston December 23, 2008 (11:01 pm)

    Magpie: They’re getting paid anyway. They get paid a minimum amount for the route they are supposed to drive, even if it’s impossible. Most rush-hour drivers are part-time. They may not even be qualified on many other routes out of their base. They are paid to do one job, that’s all, and they get paid for however long it takes, or however long it’s supposed to take, whichever is greater. They are not expected, or authorized to do anything other than what they were assigned at the last “shake up” when the routes and assignments change. Metro is almost a paramilitary organization. You get paid for a very specific job within the system. You do that job to the best of your ability. You do not deviate from that job without permission. It is a very inflexible system fueled by the constant standoff between KC Metro and the ATWU. (FWIW, it’s been 15 years since my brief Metro “career”…things might have changed some since then…but I doubt it has very much! If any recent or current Transit Operators wish to correct me, I welcome the input!)

  • Big Al (No, Not THAT One) December 23, 2008 (11:08 pm)

    OK, I still love snow, but not to drive in — at least here where there’s hills. Every other civilized American city that gets snow plows it to the side, burying cars if need be, to clear the road. It takes two simple steps. Step one: clear road. Step two: salt road. I will insist that if Chicago can do it, so can we. If these two steps are taken, roads are clear and passable. And is that what Seattle does? NO!!! Oh, well. I think it is a poor way of running a city. But, I like it here. Maybe I’ll take a stand and try to see us have better leadership. But for now, I’ll put down the car keys. Me and the kids are building snowpeople and sledding tomorrow. Be safe all!

  • Harmonic December 23, 2008 (11:08 pm)

    ug, patience wearing thin. Grew up driving in this stuff but had enough. Got involved in the 42nd & Edmunds mess on the way to Jefferson Square around 5. So at least two incidents this eveing. Stalled semi’s, people stopping in the middle of your hill (yes, you are going to be stuck) and a “wonderful” sleigh ride down the hill after finally clearing aforementioned obstacles (glad I remember how to steer into/against slidng, but that doesn’t really do much good unless you are able to stop). I have never seen anything quite like this, 10 days later. Happy that I have an AWD so I can make it to work and get paid. Sorry for all of you who have to spend these last few days unpaid.

  • Roger December 23, 2008 (11:11 pm)

    Name for the storm suggestion:

    Snow Ho-Ho ’08

  • Jen December 23, 2008 (11:14 pm)

    Preggo – good luck!! Don’t know if there’s anything you might need that we currently have (I have a 4 month old, delivered at GHC!) that would alleviate your need for running errands at this crazy time. But if you can think of anything, you can email me at schill.jen@gmail.com; we have tons of baby stuff and are in the Junction area … please take it as easy as possible :-)

  • Mad December 23, 2008 (11:18 pm)

    hmmm. 5 days of not getting to work. 5 days of no pay, 5 days before Xmas. And before a 2 week “forced closure” of my workplace due to the economy, Seattle, get a freakin clue. 12 inches of snow should not be a weeklong state of emergency. *SCREAMMMMMMMMM*

  • Mookie December 23, 2008 (11:35 pm)

    For this storm, I’d vote for “Cluster-Storm 08”.

    Was out today to the grocery store—in a car driven by a stalwart friend— first time I’d been out on the roads in a week and I was appalled at 1) how ice-rutted and dangerous the roads still are in may places and 2) the, ahem, regrettable way some locals are driving. Saw the term “moron-a-thon” in a previous comment here somewhere and that sure sprang to mind today, along with some other phrases that aren’t repeatable here. Fiz, I feel your frustration – was on that same stretch today in a front-wheel car sans chains and it was really tense – thinking of making a sign to put in the rear window of the car that says “stay off my bumper, or eat it.”

    Just grateful the power’s on. And very grateful to the WSB for such a community gathering place for compiling and reporting quick information, help, neighborliness, a place to rant and rave and feel connected. Being housebound for the most part lately really makes me appreciate WSB all the more! (Also steamed at city response as this drags on. Use the $&^#$!! salt already!)

    Good luck Preggo, will be thinking of you and hoping you stay safe and on schedule and that things have cleared off for your big event!

  • sks December 23, 2008 (11:38 pm)

    Anyone else planning an early run to the airport? Wondering if folks who have been out and about think the roads will be in any condition to go around 5 am. Thanks much (again!)

  • mellaw6565 December 23, 2008 (11:46 pm)

    Just got done making my last pet rounds – the last one being in Burien/Normandy Park. Took 148th back to the 509 and all the way down to the South Park/White Center exit, up Roxbury to 35th, 35th to Barton, and Barton down to 40th.

    Piece of cake – most roads are clear on that route.

  • megan December 24, 2008 (12:49 am)

    Just went to a show at the Triple Door. Drove home on 99 up Highland Park on to 9th. Downtown was a breeze.

  • kevin December 24, 2008 (1:05 am)

    I came home from work in downtown about 11:15 PM. Took the viaduct, across the WS Bridge, along Fauntleroy, up Barton to 35th and then south on 35th to 100th and west on 100th to 42nd.
    A good route for me with little difficulty. The worst was the stretch on 100th between 35th and 42nd. Still solid compact snow and ice.
    The roads are starting to look much improved. Still lots of ice lurking under compact snow in places.
    All this with a front wheel drive Toyota. Just take it slow and avoid the steeper hills. That was my reason for taking Fauntleroy and coming back up to 35th via Barton – to be able to avoid all the hills on 35th.
    I had already previewed Barton on the way to work earlier in the afternoon.

  • Preggo December 24, 2008 (2:27 am)

    Many thanks to Jen and Mookie (and that was my term of affection you reference, “moron-a-thon”, one I use sadly too often on the roads even when the sun’s out) for your words of kindness. No baby yet!

    Mookie, make that sign, it’s too awesome not to!

  • Erik December 24, 2008 (3:33 am)

    cathy – you must be talking about 59th? I saw the tow truck lights this eve.
    A couple days ago only the last 100 or so feet were a slide, now it’s about twice that.

    …and it’s snowing again, lol.

  • kevin December 24, 2008 (4:03 am)

    Guess what? It’s snowing… again. Started in Arbor Heights 3:300 AM and 4:00 AM. Here we go again!

  • kevin December 24, 2008 (4:06 am)

    Guess what? It’s snowing… again. Started in Arbor Heights between 3:30 AM and 4:00 AM. Here we go again! Big flakes. (correction from previous)

Sorry, comment time is over.