Did you hear? It snowed yesterday!
I was looking at my full collection of snow day photo albums, and something struck me: for Seattle, I started them in 2004. Since then, we've had an average of one snowfall per year. For the past fifteen years.
The real anomaly in that period, which came as a surprise for me to realize, is the four-year break with no real showfalls at all: from 2013 to 2016. Curiously, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, there has been a snowfall each year in February. Strangely late in winter for that to happen, at least compared to recent history, but whatever. A second snowfall occurred in 2017, on Christmas Eve, of all days -- resulting in the third White Christmas I have experience in Seattle in the two decades I have lived here. Or, I guess I should say, in Olympia, since that is where I always go for Christmas. The first had been in 2007, only because there was a light dusting the evening of Christmas Day itself; the second the very next year, in 2008, after a succession of three big snow storms that resulted in snow in Seattle for a full week and a half -- by far the longest snow has ever stuck around in all the years I've lived here.
Recent years have seen more typical patterns when it comes to snowfall: a system comes in while it's cold; we get a good couple of inches that last roughly a day; it quickly warms up enough to eliminate it all. Only part of that was typical yesterday: it's been just the one snowfall, which lasted maybe 18 hours, actually starting around 4:00 Sunday afternoon, just a few hours after Dad, Sherri, Gina and Beth left. It rarely snowed particularly hard, but it continued well into late morning yesterday, often pretty lightly, but going on long enough for the most accumulation we've had since the pretty solid February 2017 snowfall. It might even have looked just as wintery as that snowfall in 2017 did, except yesterday also included lots of wind gusts, which knocked most of the snow off the trees.
Accumulations really varied around the region; Scott, who lives in Sammamish, told me they got 9.5". Apparently the report from Seattle proper is 6.3", although that seems deeper than what I walked through yesterday morning, surprisingly deep as it still was. I really should have literally taken a ruler to it, like Scott had. SeaTac Airport reported 2.5", which seemed more in line with what I experienced in Seattle -- but, then, Seattle's terrain is so variable that snow levels vary pretty widely even within the city. That 6.3" was from the Madrona neighborhood near Lake Washington, on the east side of town; my experience was from the top of Capitol Hill and then down it from the other side from there, on down to downtown, where accumulations are always lowest. There did seem to be plenty of snow at the Olympic Sculpture Park, though, and that's right next to the building where I work.
Anyway, yesterday I walked down Pine Street with my umbrella, taking pictures along the way, hoping I might hop on a bus as it came by -- but, I was between stops when a #49 passed, albeit only about four blocks from where I'd have gotten off on 3rd anyway. I had a stroke of luck at 3rd and a #33 came right up when I was there, so I hopped on that. I now wish I hadn't, because I could have gotten a great shot of a snow-covered, traffic-less Alaskan Way Viaduct after passing through Pike Place Market; as it was, I could only get later shots on my way home, which showed footprints and strange patterns of melted strips along the roads. It was still an unusual view and worth getting pictures of, at least. That said, Sara W pointed out on Facebook this spectacular shot someone else did get of the viaduct early yesterday morning, when the snow was still unspoiled. I saved a copy of the photo for myself, to include in my full photo album on Flickr of snow photos, as I took another 30 pictures of my own besides that one.
I already had 20 shots just by the time I got to work yesterday morning, including this one I took with Jeff where I'm wearing the stocking cap Scott brought back for me from Peru several years ago. Jeff had come up in his own cap and said, "Who has the longest pigtails?" He did, clearly, but I said I still wanted to get a picture with him. I was about to take it right by my desk when Scott suggested I take it outside on the balcony, which I thought was a great idea.
I got more shots than I expected on the way home, another ten of them, as even though the high temperature never broke freezing yesterday (nor is it going to today), a bit of sun and a lot of traffic still cleared a lot of the snow away. Nevertheless, I managed to find plenty of snowy places to get new pictures of, including the requisite few from the roof of my condo building (those are the last three in the photo album). Up there, the snow depth was still deeper than I might have expected; on one deck it had spots quite deep, as the winds had created snow drifts.
And, you know what? For shits and giggles, I just created a new, customized photo album: "Snow at the Braeburn." This is (for now) an 80-shot album of photos I took of snow from in and around The Braeburn Condominiums, 2007-present.
Assembling all those photos in one spot had another unintended effect that's quite useful to me: a history of the evolving city views from our condo as well as from our building's roof. I've had some challenging times trying to find "before and after" photos in the relatively recent past, and who knew, all I had to do was search "the Braeburn" and "snow"? Well, and also look through each and every snow photo album for other photos taken in and around the building that did not necessarily have both those words or phrases as tags. In any case, here's one example: the view directly from our living room -- compare this shot from 2012 to this shot from a year and a half ago. You see how much that damned REO Flats building cuts into the view of downtown from our fourth-floor condo? It's not quite as bad from our roof, at least.
Back to the current weather. I did walk all the way home yesterday, and stayed home the rest of the evening. I made up a box mix of Spanish rice, and mixed it up with leftover fillings we still had from the taco salads we had made for dinner Sunday night. I otherwise spent most of the rest of the evening finishing up the captioning for the tunnel and viaduct bike ride on Sunday -- all of those photos from the weekend are now captioning -- and then I also edited, uploaded, tagged and captioned yesterday's snow photos. The only time I had for TV thereafter was a couple episodes of Cheers I watched with Shobhit between 9 and 10 p.m. And then we both went to bed.
The commute to work this morning was itself a pain in the ass, surprisingly more of a challenge than it had been yesterday, although in two ways I had only myself to blame. There is far less snow this morning but a lot more slick ice, particularly on sidewalks. That was one of the things that was outside my control.
The thing is, I got downstairs at my building right at 6:56 this morning, which was when the #11 was scheduled to come. The One Bus Away app said it was four minutes late, so -- perfect! When I got out to the stop, another guy who lives on my very floor was also waiting. He told me he had been unable to locate either a Lyft or an Uber and had resorted to the bus. I told him the bus was four minutes delayed so it should be coming up. And then I waited for . . . another fifteen minutes. Literally until the next bus was scheduled to come, and then, it didn't.
It was only then that I decided to look up whether the #11 was on snow reroute. Yep! In fact, the King County Metro website said all buses were on snow routes. That seemed like overkill to me, but, whatever. The thing was, although I saw on the map what the reroute roads were, I didn't see the sense on going over to one of those streets to wait, not having any idea what schedule the bus was on even on that route. I finally decided I would just walk down Pine Street, maybe catching a bus that passed me up if I could. The other guy went to find an alternate bus at a different stop.
There were probably six other people waiting at my stop, all of them in vain, and I really should have told them the bus was not coming to that stop due to it being on snow route. But I didn't because I am an inconsiderate asshole. In my defense, they should all have had the sense to check online for these details as well. Still, it wouldn't have hurt me to save them all the trouble. I didn't, though.
And then the other super-dumb thing I did: I was passing the bus stop at Pine and Broadway and a bus pulled up to it right as I reached it. Because I had it in my mind that I wanted to be going down Pine, when I saw that it was a #8, for which this was not actually one of its stop but that bus had clearly been snow-routed to there, I thought to myself, That's not going where I want to go. The bus had just pulled away when I suddenly thought, Shit! Yes it is! The #8 is the bus I sometimes take as an alternate, by walking to catch it at 15th & John, and then it goes down and up Denny Way, right to within about four blocks of my work. God damn it! Now there was an idiotically missed opportunity.
So, I then had no choice but to keep walking. Not one other bus passed me by on Pine Street before I reached Third Avenue. And, unlike yesterday's #33 that reached there right when I did, this time there was no useable bus coming for at least five minutes. And that's the maximum -- at five minutes wait, I get to my work building just as quickly if I go ahead and walk from there. So, this morning, even though the roads were actually far more drivable than they had been yesterday (and it was dry and clear -- but very, very cold; in the mid-twenties), I walked the entire distance to work.
I posted about that on Twitter and Facebook, and actually got a rare Facebook comment from Ivan: It is even more absurd here in Bellingham. The city is practically paralyzed, everything is closed, and many of my co-workers called in, and all for half an inch of snow and temperatures in the twenties! (The reported depth at Bellingham had been 2.9".)
As of right now, the forecast for the rest of the week is a bit curious: today's high only 31°; tomorrow 35°; Thursday 37°. Lows 20°, 25°, 30°, respectively. Clear through most of that time, explaining the colder than normal temperatures. And by the weekend, we're back into "chance snow" territory. That's still several days out, though, so we'll see.
[posted 12:13 pm]