January 05, 2009

Very wet and then very dry

As predicted the snow turned to rain last night, although I little later than I and most of the weather community had thought. A Puget Sound convergence zone formed this morning, producing a band of showers across the central Sound...but that has weakened now...leaving showers only on the windward slopes of the Cascades and Olympics. Tonight we will begin a wetter, warmer period...with rain over the lowlands and the lower slopes of the Cascades. The central Sound from Seattle northward will be partially rain shadowed...so there probably won't be any urban flooding. The precipitation over the mountains will be sufficient to cause flooding on some rivers...but I will deal with that later...I have to get ready to teach the next generation of meteorologists!

PS: Later this week a big ridge of high pressure builds over the eastern Pacific and we get a major break...dry, warmer....

Snow Removal Notes

Some of you commented about the use of salt last night by Seattle. As someone in the pro-salt-when-appropriate camp, I can't see why these used it......with temperatures rapidly warming anyway and no ice, but slush. They seems to be spending a lot of time going up and down primary roads...which in this case were melted out rapidly, when the plows where really needed on steep secondary and tertiary roads...yes even the neighborhoods. A quick run of a plow on the slush could really have helped my street...I was trapped last night again..and narrowly missed my neighbor's car.


  1. Ah, the first day of class with Dr. Mass. Memories...

    They'll be filling out pressure gradients on their huge weather maps before you know it. Wait--do you still have them do that?

  2. of course salt was used... Mayor N. said it would be with snow. i suppose he forgot to use it with a little discretion!

    as always... thanks for the continuing updates. most appreciated.

  3. They used SALT on the roads last night in Seattle? Idiots! That's nearly worse than not using it during the big December Solstice storm.

    Have fun in class! I'm a bit jealous, really.

  4. You guys demanded it, now you're complaining, only in Seattle.

  5. Don't be jealous, JewelyaZ, especially with this hazardous winter coming. I'm a very oooold part-time student at UW, and am seriously considering taking the quarter off.

    As I've ranted before, UW is very non-sympathetic toward East Siders and their especially trying snow hazards of winter.

    Last Jan 28th snowstorm, I had to get to UW for a 9:30am exam. The instructor said I could not delay it -- the roads were FINE in Seattle. That was true! However, on the East Side, the DOT was suggesting waiting until after 10am to drive.

    So I waited for an hour in pelting snow at 6:00am for a bus that didn't come. I then drove, inching toward campus past jack-knifed articulated buses and spun out cars, defied the WSDOT and made it to class. Here's what the East Side looked like that day (scroll to Monday commute):

    UW is so unsympathetic about east side snow that someday, someone -- staff or student -- will be killed trying to get to class. As far I know it's never happened, but the East side is growing...I beat this dead horse constantly because I can see the day coming...

  6. They obviously used salt on the roads because the politicians want to look like they have learned a lesson.

    Politics is about trying to look like you did a good job. This looks like incompetence to somebody who just tries to do a good job.

  7. I drive a school bus for Snohomish SD. This morning south bound hwy 9 went through the Snohomish Valley then up Clearview hill. About half way up all the outside windows and mirrors for up in about 30 second. Tempature inversion I guess? Valley at sea level fogged at about 300' elevation.

  8. Have a good quarter at UW!

    As to salt...what matters to me is that the city pay attention to citizen safety, effectiveness of road maintenance method and communication. In my frequent travel all over the state, WSDOT not perfect but really very good with all three. I don't need personal expertise on the details to recognize and benefit from the results. SDOT ought to find the appropriate methods and execute them....whatever those are.
    Concentrating only on primary roads doesn't get people home or emergencies served. If safety is number one....then emergency and basic services have to be able to get to the neighborhoods.

  9. It's economy of scale as far as plowing roads. I don't like it either when my street is not plowed. However, cities that have constant snow removal from Nov to March, budget in for several months of maintenance and equipment purchases and labor.

    That isn't going to happen here. Not in a recession.

    Even a couple extra weeks of snow removal can bankrupt a city. You can buy up all the used plows on ebay, but it still takes drivers to run plows on 12 hr shifts with overtime. If Seattle doubled the plows blades and then didn't use them,in say 5 years or so, I can see someone running on a platform of "waste and fraud". I saw a lot of workplaces that were shut down and that was the best plan of all--not to go out if you didn't have to.

  10. Seattle DOT would benefit from some incident management training, prioritizing, allocating resources.

  11. There just seems to be a complete lack of common sense at SDOT.

  12. Sorry, but I couldn't see any evidence at 4:00 this morning that any rain had fallen in West Seattle. It looked to me like the snow stopped, and then it warmed up, but there was too much snow remaining for there to have been any significant rain.

  13. Amen to PDDinkles comment.

    I don't think anyone expects all streets to be plowed here. And it is a good idea, although rough for businesses to close when it is not safe. However when police cars, ambulances and other medical services for the disabled cannot get access to major sections of the city, that is not a safe situation.

    Seattle used to have a snow plan that included effective maintenance of at least one or two routes on each hill in addition to the primary routes...thus providing avenues for emergency and other necessary vehicles travel. This is not requesting something new, but asking for restoration of a plan that balanced the need for modest expense and provided some modicum of community safety.

  14. I must say the plow drivers seemed to have gotten their revenge on us pro salt, plow the side street people. Some time during the we hours they plowed my street at what must have been a good clip. The force of the slush was enough to topple and knock the garbage cans and recycling bins (full ones waiting now for a couple weeks) ass-over-tea kettle (really, the big green recycle bins thrown 6'-8') spilling the content and breaking glass.

    Maybe Metro could loan the garbage collectors their tire chains since they seemed somewhat useless on the buses and might have worked better on the trucks and been more help to the public.


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