Part of the Bay Area News Group

Snowbound in Seattle

By dcuff
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 at 1:15 pm in Uncategorized.

I don’t like to begin long trips uncertain if I can complete them. But that’s how things looked Tuesday as my wife and I set out to fly for Thanksgiving from Oakland to Seattle, where a heavy snow storm had crippled road traffic in a city unaccustomed to snow drifts and ice-covered streets .  

It’s the holidays, though. We packed extra sweaters and headed out on the adventure.

Traffic was light to the airport, at the airport, and even indoors in the TSA security check lines. No one made a fuss when the airport security pulled aside an occasional passenger to scan them with the much discussed machines machines that give revealing views of people to screen out would-be underwear bombers.

When we landed in Sea-Tac airport Tuesday night, we knew from news reports that the real challenge was ahead us. On Monday, ice and snow had turned Puget Sound freeways into parking lots, caused cars, trucks and buses to jacknife and spin out, and spurred many drivers to abandon their trapped cars on roads and highways. Road salt was applied too late.

Some motorists walked more than eight miles home, and one bus rider blogged in the Seattle Times that he took a local bus ride that lasted more than five hours.  Our daughter who lived in Seattle took  three and a half hours to drive 11 miles home Monday night, steering gingerly around broken down vehicles. 

Tech-saavy Seattle residents who ride the Metro buses were dismayed upon discovering they were getting no information from a popular Web site  to give real-time information about arrival times and progress of public transit  buses. So many buses were late, stranded, or forced onto to other routes that Seattle Metro operators gave up on posting real-time information, and instead went back to giving out regular, pre-storm routes and schedules.

 As our plane landed shortly after 9 p.m., the Seattle Times posted a story headlined, “Why we can’t handle the snow.”

At the airport, were were picked up a by limo service that our daughter, a Bay Area native, had wisely hired to stand in for her and her vehicle that did its share of sliding without crashing Monday. Our driver pulled up in a four-wheel drive SUV. We felt better.

Our driver didn’t go fast as he edged out of the airport and onto the icy freeways as the temperature dipped into the teens (and later set a record of 14 degrees that day for the airport) . On the way home, we saw many cars abandoned on the side of the icy road like litter. “The roads are crazy,” our driver said.

We traveled maybe 40 mph max on the freeways, and slowed to about 2 mph to descend a small hill on the snow-covered block with our daughter’s house.

We had made it.

A day later on Wednesday morning, we are kind of stuck in the house because my daughter has gone to work and the remaining car at her house doesn’t do well on snow and ice. We can relax, and adjust to life in the snow.

One Washington man who didn’t adjust to life in the snow got in trouble because of it. As Associated Press reported, the man tried to burglarize a house and then fled on foot when police were alerted by neighbors. Officers simple followed the suspect’s footprints in the show to his hiding place and arrested him.

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