Getting around in the snow

Snowstorms are serious business.  Get the latest info from Take Winter by Storm.org, Seattle’s Emergency Info Page, SDOT and Metro Transit.  The tips below are meant to help you make the best of snow storms when they don’t pose any danger to you.

With a forecast for significant snow, we offer these transportation tips on working with the white stuff.

#1. Plan ahead

  • Learn your walk and transit routes
    Map out your best, flat walking route to key destinations like stores and homes of friends who may need or provide help.  Test your winter weather walking route to see how much time and effort it requires.  Visit Metro Transit to identify which bus routes work best, the locations of the stops, and their snow routes, of course.
  • Stock up to stay put
    Get enough groceries, flashlights, etc. to stay home through a storm.  A snow storm is good practice for a larger event like an earthquake when you’ll really need your survival kit.  Maybe get yourself a treat like a good book or break out some old board games that make you want to be stuck at home.  
  • Get approved to work from home.  
    Talk to your boss about tele-working, at least on that rare day every year or two when bad weather would double your commute time or worse.   Instead  of sitting in snowbound traffic you could be working at home—productively, safely and happily.

#2. Perspective

O.k., it’s snowing.  What can I do? 

Unlike so many other things, we haven’t figured out how to control weather.  That can be a good thing sometimes.   Consider taking a cue from the slow living movement and enjoy a refreshing change of pace from our hectic lives.   If nothing else, accept that some things are going to take a bit longer for a while.  Our attitude makes a world of difference.

#3. Stay home, but if you gotta go…

During a snowstorm, please stay off the roads if at all possible.  We know that many folks still have to get places, especially work, so if you must travel, please drive only if absolutely necessary.   Even the best vehicle for snow driving can’t protect you from the other drivers on the road with you.   You do have options:

  • Walk. Slide. Glide.  
    Keep trips local and use your boots or cross country skis.  Need to haul something?  Bring a sled.  (Later, this will make a much better story than driving to the store in the SUV with the seat warmers.)  
  • Transit  
    You often hear that it’s nice to sit back and let a professional deal with the stress of driving as you read, rest, check email or get in some solid time playing Angry Birds.  During a snow storm that’s doubly true.   Come prepared, be ready for a longer trip than usual and settle in.  Wouldn’t Aunt Martha from Massachusetts be tickled to get a call when you have lots of time to catch up?  Check Metro’s Snow and Ice page for your bus status.  Transit Tips from Take Winter by Storm are here.

#4. Enjoy

Schmitz Preserve Park transformed. W. Seattle, 1/15/12.

If you can, enjoy it.  Gosh, it’s snow after all – that stuff that used to make you giddy as a kid.   An old-fashioned snow day puts the usual things on hold as neighbors emerge from their homes and reconnect.  

If you have kids, get out and have a snowball fight.  Grab something to go sledding.  If you don’t have kids, get out and have a snowball fight.  Grab something to go sledding. 

A significant snow can be a memorable experience, and it’s so rare in Seattle.  Snow transforms how the entire city looks and feels. 

And then it’s back to normal.