Category Archives: Seattle

Why Seattle Shuts Down When it Snows Two Inches

When we moved from the Midwest to Washington ten years ago, our first winter felt balmy.  We ran around in capris and flip-flops, our new neighbors shivered in parkas, the kind I hadn’t worn since daily trudging a mile across the University of North Dakota campus in blizzard conditions.

On the average, WA was 60 degrees warmer. It was like being on spring break all winter long. 

 One Sunday in January someone from our church called.  “Church is cancelled today.” 

We were shocked.  We’d never heard of cancelling church.

“Why?” my hubby asked.

“Did you look outside?”

Hubby pulled the curtain aside and saw a dusting of snow on the ground. He asked, “Yea, so why did you cancel church?”

Our friend repeated, “Did you look outside?”

“Yes,” answered my husband, “but why did you cancel church?”

“There’s snow on the ground.”

“Yea, I see the snow, but why did you cancel church?”

“Because there’s SNOW ON THE GROUND.”

We laughed.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  After all, we survived the winter of 1996-7 with 117 inches of snow (that’s nearly TEN FEET, people!) and the interstate shut down 13 times, followed by  the Red River Flood of 1997.

We laughed for a few year years, until we finally understood how and why 1/2 inch of snow is treacherous in our new climate and terrain. 



Seattle and Snow

1. People don’t have snow gear. 

If you shovel once every couple of years, why would you keep a shovel? I piled my shovels, scrapers,  and snow blower on the sidewalk with a free sign when I moved, I use a pancake turner on my front porch.  Seriously.  I use it smugly and wisely. My library card scrapes my car windows.  I’m very happy with this arrangement.

Obviously, my new neighbors don’t have snow blowers or a blade on the front of their pickups. Wait, most don’t have pickups. The cities don’t have garages full of snowplows that run on a regular basis.  Being unprepared is frustrating, but spending money you don’t have on equipment you rarely use isn’t tax money worthy.


Sidewalks and streets aren’t cleared.  Maybe I should loan the city my pancake turner.

2.  The hills are treacherous.

  Two nearby hills  are so steep that only a guard rail come between a sliding car, and the houses below.  Most hills don’t have guard rails.

Not a stunt driver. Don’t try this next time it snows.
Actual footage. The sliding bus happened more than once. Mute if you don’t like the music.

North Dakota  is extremely flat.  You slide forwards or sideways, or into a small ditch you could drive out of and not tell your parents.

3.  Many drivers aren’t experienced in snow driving.

I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about them.

Even ND drivers drive into  ditches or “accidentally” spin a cookie.  But people in snowy climates have six months a year to perfect their winter driving skills, not six hours or six days.

Many Seattleites didn’t grow up with parents who taught them how to drive on snow, ice, snow on ice, black ice, slushy snow, and slushy snow on ice.  Add  wind speed, air temperature, and visibility to multiply the weather conditions winter drivers master.  

In the Pacific Northwest you learn to drive in overcast with rain, overcast with fog, overcast with occasional thundershowers. 

4.  Front wheel drive doesn’t work on slippery hills.

No  amount of “I think I can, I think I can “  will get you up the hills without the right vehicle, tires, and ability.Many people don’t understand how front wheel/rear wheel/four-wheel drive works, so they just head out.  Yea, we see SUVs in the ditches, too.


Others know it’s better to walk up the hill in dress shoes, than slide down in your car. (Review #3 if you are still confused.)

Parking overnight is common, but so are car pile-ups on the bottom of the hills.

5.  People Wanna’ Play

When it snows, you stop and play.  Almost every snowfall makes snowball snow, can you believe it, Midwesterners?  It’s amazing.


My neighbors, Rick and Sandy,  sculpted this amazing Seahawk.  Actually, Rick did most of the artistic work, we “coached” him.  I provided some pictures,  a few shovels of dirtless snow, and the food coloring, but they included me in the picture, anyway.

Seahawk and Beka 011

There are forts to build, snowballs to throw,


and snowmen to create.


Kathy –  Facebooking on my front porch and enjoying the snow and also the cars trying to get up our hill.

Vanessa – Please oh please, please stick around until morning, snow!! (We must be the only place on the continent who WANT snow right now).

Sonja – I realize this will NOT be exciting for my friends and family in Minnesota, Ohio, Connecticut, etc., but IT IS SNOWING AT MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!! It almost never snows here!! I love it!

LouAnn – It’s a beautiful snowy day in Lacey, WA! Hey! It can happen!

Marilyn – Measured 3-1/2″ so far – yippee!! Hot tub here we come! Love soaking while snowflakes falling

Laura – IT’S SNOWING!!!

Linda – Dreams do come true, Snow is not a fantasy.

Kathleen – I have to say… my aim with a snowball is pathetic, now. More opportunities to practice, please!

Living with six months of snow can be drudgery.  You’re always shoveling, bundling up, warming up, scraping windows, and surviving.

When it rarely snows, it’s a gift to be enjoyed. The morning after our Glorious Snow Day, the rains melted our snow creations into memories. 

That’s the main reason Seattle shuts down for snow. 

Making your home sing Mondays


When the Lord Gives You Rain…

R A I N B O O T S !
It does rain and rain and rain around here.
In fact, we started the month of April  ’09 by breaking a record for rainfall.
When we first found out we would be moving here five years ago, I was sure I would never see the sun or be dry again.
I did some Internet sleuthing and was surprised to discover  many other cities have more annual rainfall than
 Seattle’s 37 inches per year.
Atlanta, Georgia, 50.2 inches
New York, NY 46.33
Springfield, MO 44.97
Tulsa, OK 42.42
In fact, the average rainall here is not that much greater than some areas in the Midwest.
Des Moines, IA 34.72
Minneapolis, MN 29.41
So, how did Seattle get this reputation for being so rainy?
‘Cuz it rains all the time.
But, it usually rains lightly with mists to frizz your hair and dampen the hems of your jeans,
but not enough to soak you or make you change your plans.
Most of the time.

Sometimes you might wish you could change plans.

They only call off the game if it is pouring rain or if the field is unfit for play.
It’s understood that the parents can sit in the drizzling rain at 40degrees
and the kids can catch, throw and hit when their fingers are approaching numbness.
Remember, it is 40 and you are WET! Notice the heater on the far end of the bench?
How about the neat chair with the built in blue umbrella? They must be natives.
But, what can be really, really, really, really, really challenging is not seeing thesun for days.
That’s where Seattle wins the award.
Seattle , with an average of 226 cloudy days per year,
ranks only behind Anchorage,AK; Forks, WA; Astoria,OR; and Olympia,WA
for the least amount of sunny days. Simply put, only four cities in the United States see the sun less days in a year than Seattle.
Rollie, a long-time Seattle resident, claims the record number of sunless days in a row is 90.
That’s three months. That’s 1/4 of a year.
That’s a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time to NOT see the sun.
In preaching to unbelievers, Paul and Barnabus use rain to explain the goodness of God.
Acts 14:17, “He did not leave Himself without witness,
in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons,
satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
The goodness of God gives us rain?
Many in the PNW might find that a little hard to believe
when it’s the third month in a row you’ve barely seen the sun.
But, my favorite preacher (my husband) once said,
“If there was no rain, our life would be a desert.”
Instead of looking outside and saying,
“It’s raining again!” or
“The sun isn’t shining – again!”
I try to say things like,

The rock cress blooms are so beautiful!

“Look! My evergreen clematis just bloomed!”

“Look at all the little babies this year!”

The jonquils are so cheerfully nodding their heads.” (OK, that was corny.)

“My heather is STILL blooming!

“The forsythia is the sunshine in my yard.”

(These pics were all taken at the beginning of April.)

Seattle is called the Emerald City because it’s green ALL year round.
Not to rub it in to those from other climates, but I mean ALL year round.

Without the rain they wouldn’t have this title.

We have so many brilliantly-hued flowers and shrubs, something is blooming ALL year around.

Without the rain we wouldn’ have this lushness.
Yes, the PNW experiences the goodness of the Lord everyday.
The Rainy Day
(3rd verse)
Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s not really about the rain. It’s how we cope with it.

When we are hit with another heavenly outpouring,
instead of complaining, Beth and I say,
“We get to wear our rainboots!”
Then, we stomp and splash in and out of buildings while running errands,
with women eying our boots enviously and complimenting our taste in footwear.
I thank the Lord for the rain,
I plant flowers that need the rain,
and splash around in my adorable new,
polka-dotted red RAINBOOTS!