Citizens of Seattle are battling through massive amounts of snow. The weather has taken everyone by surprise and has virtually brought normal life to a standstill. Roads are covered with snow, making it difficult to drive, while the cold weather keeps people inside their homes most of the day.
Covered in snow
According to estimates, Seattle received more than 20 inches of snow for the month by the start of the third week of February. This easily broke February’s record of 13.1 inches set in 1949 according to the Sea-Tac airport records.
Taking into account the records of the Seattle Federal Building, this is the second snowiest February, beating 17.4 inches of snow set in 1923. The most snow fell on February of 1916 when Seattle received a stunning 35.4 inches. Considering that only about half the month has passed, many believe that the snow of February 2019 might eventually set an all-time record.
Difficulties faced by Seattle residents due to the record snow are numerous. Schools were closed on days of excess snow. Metro routes were shut down. Thousands of households lost power due to outages. Flights were canceled. Blood supply logistics got hampered. Four people even died due to exposure to cold. People are choosing to spend their days indoors, which in turn negatively affects business in the region.
Meanwhile, the situation is expected to improve by the weekend, with some meteorologists claiming that temperatures could flip from the current freezing levels to a more tolerable figure in the 40s.
“What’s this?! Temperatures in the lower 40s by the weekend?!?… I’m not saying it’s time to break out the Bermuda shorts, but at least we won’t have to order coffee on a stick at the local coffee shop. And I won’t need a team of Huskies and a sled to get to work,” the National Weather Service in Seattle said in a statement (The Seattle Times).
However, there is concern that the warmer temperatures might bring in rain instead of snow. And since many regions in Seattle are covered under thick layers of snow, the rain could mix with it and eventually cause landslides and urban flooding. Areas above 2,000 feet, like the mountains, may continue to receive snow. This could create quite a problem when traveling through the mountain passes.
In urban areas, rains are causing additional trouble for both citizens and authorities. Storm drains are blocked by snow and ice, causing the rain to create floods. Teams from the Seattle Public Utilities department, Seattle Department of Transportation, and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, have been hard at work, removing the ice, snow, and slush from the drains.
They are also asking citizens to lend a hand to solve the issue. “We have tens of thousands of drains in the city. You can help prevent localized flooding in your neighborhood by clearing the drain inlets near your home,” Mami Hara, with the Seattle Public Utilities Department, said in a statement (Kiro 7).
Officials have asked property owners to clear snow adjacent to their sidewalks. Those who fail to do so will have to pay US$250 in fines. Owners are also responsible for removing any fallen limbs of trees. However, if a tree has fallen onto the street, the city crews will take care of the issue.