The recent historic snow dump experienced by Buffalo, N.Y., got us thinking about our own memorable Seattle-area “snow events.” Everyone knows that snow here is infrequent, but apparently that’s what makes it so traumatic for us when it does happen. Heaven forbid we try to drive to work with more than an inch of snow on the roads.
Here’s a look back at a few of the biggest winter headaches from the last 30 years or so, in reverse chronology. As you read, keep in mind three things:
1) It’s interesting how often these storms happened in November.
2) Although many of us remember how these snows rendered the city helpless, aside from the 1985 storm, none of these rank among the deepest snows recorded in Seattle history.
3) Snowfall accumulations vary widely from city to city. It’s not uncommon for Sea-Tac Airport to record a dusting while downtown Seattle gets 6 inches and Everett gets 2 feet.
If you have memories to share of these or other storms, share them in the comments thread.
Jan. 18, 2012
In the days leading up to this storm, it was predicted to be the largest storm in decades. But it didn’t pan out that way.
Nov. 22, 2010
This was a classic example of how snow here causes immediate paralysis. This storm struck in the late afternoon/early evening, and while it may not have delivered more than 6 inches, the rush-hour timing turned some commutes into hours-long ordeals.
On the lighter side, this snow prompted folks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to make the best of the situation:
Dec. 19, 2008
It was a scary situation when a tour bus slid down a steep Capitol Hill street and ended up hanging out over the I-5 freeway.
Dec. 26, 1996
This storm caused a holiday mess. After up to a foot of snow fell on the day after Christmas, heavy rains came a few days later that caused epic slush and flooded roads.
Dec. 18, 1990
How the Seattle Weather blog describes this storm: “Heavy, wet snow fell in droves as the Convergence Zone roared south into Seattle in the early afternoon, blanketing freeways and blinding motorists. Accompanied by howling northerly winds, the Zone peaked in intensity right over downtown — dumping a foot of snow in the heart of the city. As if that weren’t enough, lightning flashed overhead as peals of thunder boomed from the sky — treating stunned Seattleites to a spectacular display of thundersnow.”
Feb. 3, 1989
This mid-winter storm was memorable because it was followed by a week of sub-freezing temperatures, including some record lows, so the snow stayed around a while.
Nov. 21 and 27, 1985
These two storms combined for a total of 17.5 inches of snow in Seattle.