Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like The Solstice

Image credit: Cujo359 [Click for a larger version.]

You can tell it's winter around here. It's cold, there's snow on the ground, and no one who doesn't have chains and four-wheel drive can get anywhere. Still, there's something lovely about new fallen snow, isn't there? If it can make my backyard look picturesque, it can beautify just about anything.

People who are out on the roads aren't finding it so picturesque, I'm sure. Dana Hunter's winter driving experience is a typical one:

It's late. I can 'splain. I just spent over a damned hour trying to get home. It is snowing in the northern 'burbs of Seattle, and this city has no idea what a plow looks like. Total fucking insanity. I counted at least three buses stuck, not to mention all of the optimistic folks who've never tried to drive in three inches of fresh, slick snow before but thought they'd make it.

A tremendous shout-out to the folks on the 522 overpass to the 405 who were pushing cars up the slope, mine among them, between the stuck bus and the stuck cars. Without them, I'd be spending my night waiting for a tow. I don't know who they were, but I love them dearly.

Happy Hour Discurso (Dec. 17)

That's another of the things that makes this area livable in winter - people want to help out. Without such people, winters would really suck here.

Our local transportation agencies' ability to deal with these conditions is limited. We don't get much snow around here, although we do get lots of ice. Maybe all those tax-cutting initiatives have something to do with this? I can't be sure. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer elaborates:

King County road crews labored to keep main arterials clear, but trouble spots still snarled drivers.

The county had about 50 snow-removal trucks deployed and was busy dumping 25 tons of salt and about 8,000 cubic yards of sand on area roads to keep them passable.

'Thundersnow' Whites Out Seattle

That's fifty snowplows for a county that's the size of some states, with a population of two million people. Something tells me that they'll be behind for a while.

The problem is that the temperatures, as usual, are falling after the snow has fallen. The snow starts to melt, then turns to ice. Then you see stuff like this, courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

WSDOT has cleared the semi that was blocking I-405 north at Coal Creek Parkway. So 405 north is now open.

Earlier this post read:

The center lane of I-405 going north has been blocked at Coal Creek Parkway near Bellevue by a disabled semi for the past 25 minutes, WSDOT reports.

Snow update: Semi no longer blocking traffic on I-405

The PI has some lovely photos at its online edition.

The Everett Herald writes:

Many drivers heeded warnings to stay home and there were no major traffic problems in Snohomish County by mid afternoon, officials said.

Still, the Washington State Patrol responded to dozens of mostly minor accident throughout the day.

State Department of Transportation officials spent the day watching drivers spin out, spokeswoman Aurora Jones said.

While the snow is forecast to stop tonight, cold temperatures are expected to make the morning commute slippery.

“We will be trying to clear snow and ice off the road,” Jones said.

Roads crews are expected to work through the night spreading sand and deicer.

Snow Turning To Ice

Even so, they're not kidding. Tomorrow's commute is going to suck for the people who have to make it. Weren't we all supposed to be telecommuting by now?

UPDATE: Fixed the quote from the PI about the truck blocking I-405. Earlier, my sentence immediately following had been included in the quote, making it look as though the PI was congratulating itself on the artistry of its photos.


One Fly said...

One of the fringe benefits of snow was and is slick streets making it ideal for controlled slides.

A town fairly close growing up had double wide streets around the courthouse that was perfect for sliding around with little chance of harm to anything. Nobody seemed to mind but I'm sure you couldn't get by with it today.

Most of us guys did it and I do it to this day. It was something to do in the winter out in the cornfield when activities were very limited.

One of my fantasys is to start a slide just before entering clear ice on a huge lake at at least a 100mph. Shut it off and watch the movie unfold.

The skills I learned back then carry me today and I continue to practice. It's an indicator of how slick it is. Same with your brakes as I am intentionally locking them up frequently as that is the best indicator of just how dangerous the roads really are.

Cujo359 said...

Around here there are very few such opportunities. Often, those opportunities come when one is driving home from work, and there are usually plenty of others on the road learning at the same time.

shoephone said...

I cancelled appointments and stayed home all day on Thursday. It was nice, but staying inside for another four days does not appeal to me! Unfortunately, just walking on the streets around here (in Seattle's north end) is treacherous.

Let me out! Let me out!

Cujo359 said...

It's enough to make a person crazy, isn't it? I've already caught up on lots of stuff I'd get around to when I could. Let's see, there's the sock drawer ...

Dana Hunter said...

"This is really out of the ordinary for Seattle," they said.

"It almost never snows, and when it does it melts right off," they said.

"We've lived here in Kirkland for years and never seen it this bad," they said.

Lying scumbag apartment manager bastards.

I should've known better that January I visited and the entire city was frozen for three freakin' days. But no. I trusted the locals.

Not that I would've stayed in Phoenix even if they'd told me Seattle stayed frozen from October to March, but I would've at least invested in chains...


It is pretty, though. And at least I got to stay home and see to the cleaning I got behind on during NaNo. It's just too bad I don't have a very big sock drawer...

Cujo359 said...

It's only unusual if you haven't lived here very long. It seems like nearly every winter there are days like this. Last year, we seem to have gotten lucky. Oh wait, I was out of town in January last year.

shoephone said...

The sock drawer...!

I've scrubbed out the shower and tub, cleaned the inside of the refrigerator, and now it's on to stringing the exterior Xmas lights...

Still got all that filing I resist no matter what the weather!

shoephone said...

We get snow about once every three years, on average. But let's not forget, it snowed for two days this last April!

Cujo359 said...

I think I was out of town then, too.