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A dozen or so things to know when it snows — even an inch — on Capitol Hill

There is a good chance we’ll get one entire inch of snow on Capitol Hill Thursday night. It’s been a while. The last time the Hill got that snowy was December 2013 when a whopping 7/10ths of an inch blanketed Central Seattle on a Friday morning. Here are a few things you need to know if, indeed, the forecasts hold true. If not, you’re ready for a La Nina winter of snowy predictions around the Pacific Northwest.

See something we need to know about? or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

  • UPDATE: The National Weather Service now predicts the snow will begin “late” Thursday in Seattle and has lowered its predicted snowfall totals. “The most probable scenario at this time is that precipitation will being as snow this evening, then gradually transition back to rain some time late tonight.”


  • Driving: If you’re going to drive, check out the SDOT Winter Weather map. It shows which routes have been recently been de-iced or salted. There are also a few notorious streets to avoid including John between Broadway and 15th and E Aloha. Commenters will probably know more. You can also check the CHS Street Cams page before you head out. And the CHS Weather page has the latest reports from local observations.
  • Side streets: Remember that side streets will not be cleared and may be covered with snow even when an artery route is clear.
  • Metro is prepared and hopefully will never again create viral Seattle snow videos. Its snow and winter weather updates are here. If it gets serious, expect delays in service and some canceled trips as articulated buses are moved out of service. Also watch for snow routes:

  • Capitol Hill Station is a fully operational snow battle station. Sound Transit says it works to maintain “normal light rail service” during inclement weather, “although minor delays can occur.” It might also continue to operate trains overnight after the close of passenger service to prevent ice from forming on the tracks.
  • The First Hill Streetcar can operate in snow not deeper than four inches. “If it surpasses that we will suspend operations,” a spokesperson tells CHS. You might also see a “freeze-train” that creates surface friction to keep the rails above freezing during low temperatures below 32 degrees.
  • Car2Go, Reach Now, ZipCar: We’re checking. Here’s how Car2Go deals with staying out the way of the plows in Minnesota.
  • Shelter: The city is keeping its 100-bed co-ed facility open overnight through the cold snap:
    In anticipation of cold temperatures, the Seattle Human Services Department has opened the emergency co-ed adult shelter at the Seattle Center Pavilion (305 Harrison St.) through Thursday, December 8th. This shelter will be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and has room for 100 people.
    Many, of course, won’t be able to take advantage of it or will choose not to. Call 911 if you see somebody who appears to be in distress on the streets at any time — but especially when temperatures hover around freezing.
  • Public schools: You can find closure alerts here. Unless the rain forecasted for overnight Thursday never materializes, Friday morning should bring regular start times.
  • Airport: The FAA’s Sea-Tac status page is here.
  • The highest point on Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park, at 453 feet above sea level, is #5 on the list of Seattle’s highest elevations.
  • Best place to sled (mostly safely) are these CHS Volunteer Park Sled Runs. If it gets nuts, sledding down Denny is part of Capitol Hill legend. Watch out for moving cars of course but some of the most serious injuries come from hitting parked cars. Be careful.

  • King County maps shows the range of elevations across the Hill from 200 feet down in I-5 Shores to 300 feet on Broadway and 400 feet above 12th. This is useful for both your snow planning and your small plane piloting. Make a note of it.
  • More places not to even think about driving? Here is a list of the steepest streets in Seattle.
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6 thoughts on “A dozen or so things to know when it snows — even an inch — on Capitol Hill” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. This seems like a good place to mention: If you’re out walking, even on slow-traffic streets, don’t assume cars stopping at intersections can stop. They may not know they can’t stop. Don’t walk into the crosswalk till all cars have stopped.

    • Thanks for the reminder to all about pedestrian safety. Today I saw a pedestrian make a very understandable but potentially deadly mistake. She was waiting to cross at a crosswalk uncontrolled by a light. I stopped, and she looked at me, smiled, and stepped off the curb without looking to her left, into the path of an oncoming truck. When she saw the look on my face, she quickly looked left and was able to get back the curb. The truck was also able to stop. If there would have been ice or snow, it could have been different. I walk all the time, so I know how easy it can be to let your guard down. Especially in this weather, remember to focus, make eye contact with drivers when you cross, look both ways, and double check the lane you are stepping into. Drivers have a legal obligation to stop, but the above measures can go a very long way to keeping you safe.

    • Good advice! Every time I watch one of those YouTube videos of cars sliding down the CH hills in the snow, I’m shocked at how casual so many pedestrians are. Those cars are like missiles! No one is there to protect you from them. There’s also a domino effect that makes them extra-upredictable, once they begin slamming into each other.