Puget Sound Clean Air Agency: Seattle finally set for a smoke break

This just in from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and King County/Seattle Public Health — we’re about to get a smoke break:

We forecast air pollution levels that are UNHEALTHY for everyone to continue through much of today in the Puget Sound Region. There has been some improvement in the South Puget Sound, but the levels still remain UNHEALTHY for everyone. Lingering smoke over the Pacific may still impact us through early tomorrow morning, but we expect much less smoke by tomorrow afternoon. Until air quality gets better, stay indoors with windows closed, if you can find somewhere cool. Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website for updated forecasts as conditions change.

The area has been under air health alerts since last week with grey, smoky skies forcing many to spend their August days indoors and others to brave the conditions behind face masks.


CHS Pics | Grey smoke sun

Seattle’s layer of wildfire smoke is forecasted to be partly blown away by ocean winds Thursday night and into the weekend. But a fuzzy view from Volunteer Park might be something to get used to.

Some forecasts indicate the smoke will thicken again by Monday — and may even be worse than the dangerously low air quality we saw earlier this week.

Looking though Seattle’s haze, wildfires are only part of the problem, according to a report from Environment Washington:

With the Trump administration proposing to weaken federal air quality and global warming emissions standards, air pollution remains a threat to public health. According to a new report by Environment Washington Research & Policy Center 3.8 million people in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area experienced 26 days of degraded air quality in 2016, 250,000 people in Yakima experienced 84 days of degraded air quality, and 554,000 people in Spokane-Spokane Valley experienced 51 days of degraded air quality, increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.

The full, sad report is here.

Celebrate while you can still breathe. Volunteer Park hosts GreenStage this weekend including a performance of The Three Musketeers Thursday night, Henry IV Friday night, and a presentation of Backyard Bard Saturday afternoon.

A sunny, slippery Thursday ahead after gentle snowfall on Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Take your time getting around Capitol Hill this morning. Most major streets are clear but sidewalks, stairs, and pretty much everything else is cold and icy after a gentle blanket of snowfall Wednesday night. Some areas of Capitol Hill report up to one inch fell and froze through the night.

As of early Thursday morning, there were no reports of major street or transit issues across Capitol Hill or the Central District but we will update this post as issues arise. SDOT handled one issue already this morning with signal issues at Broadway and Pine repaired to start the morning commute. Traveling off the Hill is a slightly different story as traffic is slowed by the icy conditions. Washington State Patrol reports more than 20 collisions so far due to the slippery roads. Lower traffic volumes thanks to the Seattle Public Schools mid-winter break will help.

UPDATE 8:30 AM: A large Seattle Fire response was dispatched after a car crashed into a utility pole at 12th and Republican. There was one reported injury but most SFD units were turned loose from the scene. The crash was blocking traffic in the area and a few cars backed up on side roads were having trouble with the ice.

UPDATE 8:50 AM: A stuck Metro bus was reported blocking traffic on E Cherry at 19th.

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Cold, wintry winds rip loose construction scaffolding at 12th and John

(Image: @ShellyShelly via Twitter)

An under construction Capitol Hill microhousing development became one of the city’s centers of attention Sunday as a cold winter storm blew into Seattle and tore loose scaffolding while sending a wall of plastic sheeting into a flapping fit at 12th and John.

Traffic in the area was detoured for hours and the sidewalk closed after the scaffolding came loose and could be seen rocking and swaying in the wind. Continue reading

Capitol Hill, you’re getting a Winter Weather Advisory for Christmas — UPDATE

UPDATE 12/25/2017 10:52 AM: A nice blanket of fluffy white snow is slowly turning to a more worn and torn covering as temperatures tick up and the snowfall has passed. It’s a white Christmas on Capitol Hill. We’ve selected some of our favorite images from the crowd to share. If you have more, let us know in comments. The National Weather Service says while the snow has passed, expect freezing temperatures and ice overnight. With Capitol Hill’s sidewalks already turned mostly from charming to sopping messy slush, watch your step.

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‘High Wind Warning’ — Forecast says gusty Monday in store for Seattle — UPDATE: Power out to more than 11K around Capitol Hill

Lights out for QFC

UPDATE 11/13/2017: Above, scenes from a darkened Broadway. More on the night’s power outages, below.
UPDATEx2 11/14/2017: More than 3,000 were still without power Tuesday morning around the Hill — many of them around the Summit Ave area of the Hill. More updates below.

Original Report 11/13/2017 8:57 AM: Batten down the hatches. And charge your mobile devices. The National Weather Service says wild winds will whip western Washington Monday afternoon:

A “High Wind Warning” has been issued for the Puget Sound and Seattle through 9 PM:

* WIND…South 25 to 40 mph with gusts TO 60 or 65 mph.

* SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS…The I-5 metro corridor from Lewis
county north to Snohomish county. Includes the greater Seattle
area, Bellevue, Tacoma, Bremerton, and Olympia.

* TIMING…Late this morning through early this evening.

* IMPACTS…Falling trees and limbs, power outages, and minor
damage to structures.

While the grid serving Capitol Hill is about as stout as they come thanks to work to move wires underground, big infrastructure investments for Capitol Hill Station, the ongoing development in the area, and First Hill’s medical services core, the leafier edges of the neighborhood and surrounding areas like the Central District have plenty of water-soaked trees and branches.

We’ll be on the watch for any power issues. The Seattle City Light Status page is here. Let us know what you’re seeing. You can check out area streets on the CHS traffic cameras page and see current conditions including recent wind speed readings on the CHS weather page.

UPDATE 4:50 PM: With winds peaking just before 5 PM, Seattle Fire was responding to reported wires down on Belmont Ave at E Olive Way after a tree or branch fell in the area. There were reports of a transformer explosion and wires down across a few parked vehicles in the area. Meanwhile, a tree took down utility lines at 22nd and Prospect around the same time. Continue reading

Novemberrrr 3rd? Morning snow on Capitol Hill

Snow fell on Capitol Hill this year before the leaves did. Here is what it looked like just before 6 AM Friday morning:

With surface temperatures mostly too warm for sticking, any morning accumulation was mostly limited to grass and Halloween decorations. Just for example, here is what happened the last time Seattle experienced early snowfall in October of 1971:

The National Weather Service expects this current cold snap to last the weekend with the snow level occasionally dropping to 500 feet or lower around the Puget Sound. You can check out hyperlocal conditions on the CHS weather page and get a look at the streets around Capitol Hill on the CHS Traffic Cams page.

CHS Pics | March showers bring Capitol Hill rain gardens

It has been an abnormally rainy start to spring for Seattle with rainfall more than double your typical wet and dreary Pacific Northwest March. You can learn how to put that extra rainfall to work for flowers and plants at a Meet-a-RainWise Contractor Fair coming up in April at Madison Valley’s City People’s:

Meet-a-RainWise Contractor Fair

We found this “RainWise” garden in motion along 19th Ave E. The joint city and county program helps take some of the burden off its taxed sewer system by providing rebates that cover “most or all” of the cost of installing cisterns and rain gardens. “To receive a rebate, you must live in an eligible combined sewer overflow basin,” reads the fine print. You can learn more here.

New owners have got the garden store looking good again (Image: City People's)

New owners have got the garden store looking good again (Image: City People’s)

Meanwhile, we reported here on the interim rebirth of City People’s following delays of the mixed-use grocery and apartments project being planned to replace the garden store. Meet the new owners Alison Greene and Jose Gonzales:

Longtime employees Alison and Jose are the new owners of City People’s Garden Store. Jose has been working at the Garden Store since 1998 as the Annuals Buyer, and Alison started in 2003 becoming a Manager and the Tree & Shrub Buyer. The two worked closely with former owners Steve Magley and Dianne Casper to move the business forward.

With small slide below Interlaken, soggy March brings landslide concerns

An unbelievably soggy March has neighbors in the sloping areas on the north of Capitol Hill worried about landslides.

A small slide closed 14th Ave E between Boyer and Lynn to through traffic Saturday morning. With continuing rains, you can expect to see more mud.

March has already reached its average rainfall totals following weeks of even wetter than usual weather around Seattle.

CHS has reported on small slides over the years and concerns about the slopes of northern Capitol Hill and around Interlaken Park. Our nature writer documented the landslide risk of the area in 2014 including the Hill’s geologic past of glacial till and water-pooling clay:

Then we come in. The grade is altered, creating new faults. Hills are denuded of trees, which hold slopes and mitigate flooding. Barriers to natural water flow diverts it toward unforeseen consequences. People understandably want views and build on cliffs, changing the loads on hills. Generally things more even more unstable. West Capitol Hill, Interlaken, North Capitol Hill. Slides every decade going back in our modern record. I won’t tally the slides in Hill history — that would take too long.

For the most part, recent slides have been mostly limited in damage. In 2011, cracks from the sliding hillside forced an indefinite closure of Interlaken Drive. It reopened after repairs five months later.

Post mid-winter break snow open thread — UPDATE: #THUNDERSNOW

Forecasters were convinced any accumulations would be minor but snow was falling and sticking Monday morning across Capitol Hill and parts of Seattle. There were no immediate reports of bus changes or school closures.

The National Weather Service says the snow should change to rain later this morning but we should be ready for pockets of snowfall over the coming night and morning:

Snow levels will remain rather low (below 500 feet across
most areas from Seattle northward Monday morning and again late  tonight and Tuesday morning – and around 1000 feet during the  afternoon and evening hours). But to complicate things, heavier  showers will locally lower the snow level and showers may contain  small hail, if not snow. Snow in the lowlands, if it occurs, is  not expected to accumulate as near-surface temperatures during  the precipitation remains above freezing. But, heavier showers can have a way of giving a local accumulation that is impossible to pinpoint beyond an hour or two.

There has been no update yet from Seattle Public Schools. Parents are probably keeping a close watch for any delays or closures as kids are slated to return to school after the district’s mid-winter break.

UPDATE 3:50 PM: #THUNDERSNOW. One of those unpredictable pockets produced a few bolts of lightning, hail, and fluffy snowflakes in miserable, cold, wet mix that is expected to continue through the already mangled evening commute. Meanwhile, we’re getting reports of vehicles stuck on some of Capitol Hill’s slopes including Pine at 14th, and Madison at 19th.

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Spinning wheels on Capitol Hill ❄️#ithinkican

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