Another choreographed snow response! Thank you to everyone who helped keep our sidewalks clear of snow & ice last week!

Remember that thick blanket of snow we woke up to last week?

On February 13, Seattle had the snowiest day in over 50 years! (Not to get confused with the snow record set 2019 when Seattle had the snowiest February in over 50 years.)

For many, the snow was a welcomed lightness and an excuse to get outside and chat with neighbors. Kids (and grownups) across the city took advantage of the perfect snowman-building-snow and made smiling snow-people and snow-forts.  

Neighbors and business owners also grabbed their shovels and helped clear sidewalks, curb ramps, and storm drains – thank you!! Because of your help, your neighbors were able to get to bus stops, walk and roll to the grocery store, and get to work. 

Even though the snow came over a three-day-weekend, a lot of people still had to get to work and make essential trips. We were out 24/7, between Thursday at 7:00 am and Monday 7:00 pm, to pretreat and clear streets, bridges, bike lanes, and curb ramps. This helped keep our streets and sidewalks accessible for people who needed to travel and clear for first responders.

We received many messages of thanks for our snow response! 

Throughout this blog are some shout-outs we received on Twitter.

To maintain access to essential services, including COVID-19 test sites and vaccination sites, we prioritized clearing the most critical routes for transit and emergency response vehicles first.  

These streets, outlined on our snow route map, are used by the most people and many lead to hospitals, schools, and emergency services. This year, we also prioritized clearing routes to COVID-19 test sites and vaccination sites. 

From Thursday through Monday, we had 58 trucks equipped with plows and salt sprayers out pretreating and clearing 1,126 lane miles of road along our snow routes.  

We also had smaller plows treating and clearing protected bike lanes and a team of people hand-shoveling and snow-blowing pedestrian paths on bridges, stairways, and curb ramps – in fact, they cleared 1,621 curb ramps on Saturday and 1,938 more on Sunday!  

Keeping curb ramps and sidewalks clear of snow and ice helps everyone get around better, but it’s especially important for neighbors who have accessibility needs or have a harder time getting around. Again, thank you to everyone who cleared the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses! The Seattle Municipal Code requires that adjacent property owners keep their sidewalks in good repair and safe for public travel. 

Small snow plow clearing protected bike lane on 2nd Ave during a past snow event.  

Ever wonder who’s driving Seattle’s snow plows? 

It’s the same incredible City employees who are paving our roads, building curb ramps, maintaining bridges, and repairing sidewalks.  

When winter weather comes, they pivot from their normal daily duties, and all hands are on deck to clear our streets, protected bike lanes, staircases, curb ramps and bridges of snow and ice.  

During this past snowstorm, City employees from SDOT, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities, and Finance & Administrative Services worked 12-hour shifts during the long weekend to help keep the roadways clear for those who had to travel.

The people who drive the equipment that plow the streets and bike lanes are perhaps the most visible part of our snow-response. Behind the scenes, teams keep supplies topped up and equipment running, answer calls from the public, help stranded motorists, take care of downed trees, keep the community informed, and so much more.

The work we do to keep the streets clear is one part of a City-wide response to snow and severe weather. This response includes creating emergency shelters and warming centers, responding to power outages, and keeping critical water and wastewater infrastructure operating.

Even as we’re approaching spring, we’re prepared if another bout of winter weather comes our way. Are you?  

  • When you hear of severe weather coming our way, consider stocking up before the storm hits. To be fully prepared, pull together a snow shovel, a bag of street salt, warm clothes, extra blankets, flashlights, first aid kits, and three-day supply of food, water and medicine for the whole family in case the power goes out.  
  • Before it freezes, sprinkle rock salt (or another environmentally-friendly product to prevent ice from forming).  
  • Talk to your neighbors before a storm to find out who will need help in your community. Work together to support one another and come up with a plan to ensure that all the sidewalks on your block are kept clear so that everyone can get around safely.  
  • Once it starts snowing, shovel your sidewalk every 12 hours before snow turns to ice. If you can, help clear any storm drains and corner curb ramps on your block or lend a helping hand to any neighbors who may need it.  

Learn more and stay up-to-date on the latest conditions: