It's official: wettest month on record
Turns out there's nothing like a little snow to make the rain look good. Puget Sound-area residents spent much of Wednesday bracing for...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Turns out there's nothing like a little snow to make the rain look good.
Puget Sound-area residents spent much of Wednesday bracing for another anticipated snowstorm by stampeding grocery stores, hardware retailers and tire shops.
But the predicted snow was interrupted off and on by rain, and November became Seattle's wettest month on record. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reported a monthly total of 15.37 inches late Wednesday, breaking the record of 15.33 inches recorded at the Federal Building in 1933. Measurements have been taken at Sea-Tac since 1945.
At 10 p.m. Wednesday, snow was still falling in many parts of the city. Queen Anne Avenue, the major thoroughfare on Queen Anne Hill, was closed because of snow and police officers were chaining up the tires on their cruisers. Ferry employees brought sleeping bags to work, unsure if they'd have to spend the night on the boats.
But by this morning, forecasters said, rain would take over throughout most of the region, starting to wash away the snow that had accumulated since Sunday.
"It will be a big-time relief when it rains," said Naseer Quadeer, owner of City Wide Towing, who has had her crews working overtime since the weekend.
"I think it's safe to say that for once the rain will be a welcome change," Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.
"Twelve-hour days get a little old," said Ray Holmes, a 62-year-old lead maintenance technician for the state Department of Transportation who was working on Highway 99. "You end up not eating right, not sleeping enough. You go home, gritting your teeth about all the cars you almost hit because they slid through the intersection."
Snow blanketed the region Sunday and again Monday, creating traffic nightmares on major highways and closing schools and retail stores. Tuesday was clear, but record-setting cold temperatures kept the snow around and turned moisture on area roads into ice.
The heavy snow in Western Washington's northern counties made some roads impassable and knocked down power lines, keeping thousands of families in the dark for days.
At 4 a.m. Wednesday, the temperature at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport plunged to 18 degrees, breaking a 31-year-old record of 22 degrees, making it the coldest Nov. 29 in Seattle history.
National Weather Service meteorologists had predicted another storm would drop 1 to 3 inches of snow in the Seattle area Wednesday and into this morning, but changed that forecast as temperatures rose.
"The snow just isn't going to amount to much because it is going to turn relatively warm," Doug McDonnal said.
Forecasters did say some areas outside Seattle, such as Darrington, Gold Bar and the Hood Canal region, could see a few inches of snow.
In the wake of the snowstorm and earlier predictions for still more snow, some businesses sent employees home early, while others were doing a brisk business.
Managers of hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowes reported a run on faucet covers, electrical tape, pipe insulation, ice melt and tube sand, which is used to add weight to vehicles.
Grocery stores sold large amounts of firewood, Duraflame logs, salt, candles, flashlights, gloves and cat litter — which can be used for traction.
People also stocked up on milk, bread and other staples, according to Kelly Hall, a manager at the QFC on Capitol Hill.
Many parents were also checking school Web sites anxiously Wednesday night, waiting to see if classes would resume after as many as three days of cancellations. A spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools said the district expects to decide about 5 a.m. today whether classes will resume after two days off. Most other area schools also recommended parents check back this morning to see if classes were still on.
"They're driving me crazy," said Joanie Griffin, whose three teenage sons attend schools in the Central Kitsap School District in Bremerton. "They're complaining about how bored they are. ... They need to go back to school."
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed
to this report.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.