Fear of a White Planet

It snowed Monday morning, so local TV news anchors spent yesterday chugging Red Bulls in preparation for their annual “HOLY SHITTIN’ PENGUINS SEATTLE SNOWMAGEDDON ALERT UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” show. By the time the evening broadcast rolled around, you’d think the powdery white stuff falling from the sky was weaponized anthrax.

In their defense, Seattle does tend to seize up when it gets an inch of snow. Like, a single cubic inch of snow, distributed across the entire city. In cases like yesterday, where so much snow fell that things turned perceptively white, people go nuts. Everyone adheres to their Emergency Snow Escape Plan, which is to immediately drive to the steepest hill in their neighborhood and attempt to a- or descend it, preferably in a 1998 Pontiac Bonneville lacking chains.

As you can see, the population of the Pacific Northwest is descended from a distinct subspecies of homo sapient completely lacking in the ability to adapt. We like our Northwest pacific; any perturbations and we’re completely hosed.

At least the weathermen are happy, as they get to dust off the word “inclement” and use it in every other sentence. Those of us unschooled in the intricacies of metrology, on the other hand, describe the weather in slightly different terms: totally effing awesome.

Update: After an hour of looking for my car keys, I realized that they must have fallen out of my pocket while sledding. Why didn’t I seal myself into my home with duct tape, as advised?

Update 2: Please add the following to the list of things that are totally effing awesome: people.

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11 comments.

  1. Wow. I really wanted the fire truck to go sliding down the hill too, but the bus was awesome! I’m thinking it might be the pedestrians in Seattle who are the dumb ones though. You’re taking your life in your hands just to go for a stroll in the snow!

  2. The second paragraph, particularly the second half, pure gold.

    The Canadian equivalent for this phenomenon is probably Toronto, Ontario. They once called in the National Guard over a snowfall. Consequently in other places (e.g. the Maritimes/Eastern Canada) they regularly get two or three times more snow without making a federal case of it.

    Great videos, way more entertaining than they have any right to be.

  3. I was hoping the firetruck would slide too! I guess the emergency services people buy snow tires (or at least “all season” tires)!

    The main difference with snow-belt cities is two-fold:

    1) it’s usually colder. Cold snow isn’t as slick to begin with. Cold snow melts onto warm roads and then re-freezes forming these nice icy hills – that doesn’t happen as much in the snow belt because the roads are colder.

    2) We salt our roads. These days we even spray salt water in advance of this type of storm.

  4. Glad to see it’s not just us Brits then! You’d think we’d never seen snow before, but we never learn the lessons about driving on it. We are the ridicule of most of Europe when a few flakes shutdown the entire island.

  5. We in Spokane, Washington, (a city that currently resembles the inside of a freezer that hasn’t been defrosted since 1972) shake our heads at you… It was -4 degrees here this morning. I got to work via dog sled. Come on, Seattle. You can deal.

  6. I’ve lived through a few Seattle snow days. Although the depth does not compare with the snow days I’ve experienced in Anchorage, Boston and Chicago, a few things make it challenging in SEA:

    1. Doesn’t happen often enough to make a huge snow removal operation economically feasible.
    2. Gravity destroys traction on hills.
    3. Under 500′ elevation, the thermal effect of the sound and the lake plus topography create fast changing little pockets: snow, melt, freeze, snow some more.

    Seattle is uniquely adapted to dealing with these challenges through a worldview of stoic suffering and quiet acts of passive resistance.

  7. Ah, ut’s the 7 hills ya know. I live in s suburb of Seattle and we have hill out here but stay off them when they are slick!

  8. We have the same dynamic down here in the SF Bay Area . . . but with rain. RAIN! And y’know, it rains pretty frequently down here–summer? Not today; today we’re raining. Spring? Definitely raining. Fall? That’s nearly winter! Rain! February? Wear your aqualung, you can take it off in March. And yet, if it’s been more than two weeks since the last storm, everybody thinks they’re from LA. “Oh Shriek! What is this–SUBSTANCE–falling on my head?!” And it’s everybody into the cars; A through K drive like you’ve lost your minds, L through Z go park on the freeway.

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