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caption: A group of people snowshoe along Northwest 70th Street en route to Golden Gardens on Saturday, February 13, 2021, in Seattle. 
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A group of people snowshoe along Northwest 70th Street en route to Golden Gardens on Saturday, February 13, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Get out your rulers, the snow has arrived in Seattle

Just a reminder: Seattle has hills, with roads on them, and they don't work with icy snow layered on top. So just so we're clear, don't drive on hills coated with ice.

Update Saturday, Feb. 13., 3 p.m. — Road crews have had to respond to multiple spinouts, collisions, and stuck vehicles across western Washington. Public officials are urging everyone who can to stay home. They say, if you do need to drive somewhere, be sure to carry emergency supplies and a fully charged phone.

Some vaccination sites have closed; others are encouraging everyone who needs to do so to call and reschedule. The City of Seattle’s Covid-19 testing sites remain open.

The City of Seattle has opened additional emergency shelters, including one at City Hall which will remain open through Monday morning. The Fire Department is providing transportation to those sites for those who need it. If you or someone else needs emergency shelter, call 2-1-1 to find an available bed and transportation to a shelter.

Original story below: This article is an update to a previous version that previewed the snow storm, published on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Depending on where you are, as much as 8 inches of snow fell between Friday evening and Saturday morning in the Seattle region, if you go by the many, many pictures of rulers posted across Twitter and Instagram. Areas south of Seattle got more snow; some rulers in Olympia measured 14 inches.

The city of Seattle has activated its emergency operations center. Crews will now be working 24-hours to clear snow routes.

The snow

An additional several inches of snow are expected Saturday night and Sunday morning. Officials are worried that the region could experience cycles of snow and rain through the next few days, which would make the snow wet and heavy. Those conditions could bring down trees and power lines, leaving more people without power.

The snow that dumped over western Washington will stick around throughout Saturday, before it switches over to rain Sunday. By Monday, we should have some nice slush on the ground.

The National Weather Service in Seattle reports that two records were broken in the region on Friday, Feb. 12. The weather service's offices in northeast Seattle recorded a low of 26 degrees (breaking the previous 29 degrees recorded in 2004). And Sea-Tac Airport recorded 2.2 inches of snow, breaking the 1995 record of .2 inches.

caption: A corner at Seattle's University District at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 and at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13.
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A corner at Seattle's University District at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12 and at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13.
Credit: Gregg Porter / KUOW

What to know

  • Covid-19 vaccination sites in Kent and Auburn have been closed, and all Feb. 13 appointments have been cancelled. Public Health Seattle & King County says that people with cancelled appointments can reschedule using the link they received via text or email.
  • Check Seattle's snow routes here to see where city crews will be clearing roads for traffic during icy conditions. Mayor Jenny Durkan recently said that snow routes have been altered this season to accommodate access to the city's Covid-19 testing sites, and also to work with the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.
  • Check here for bus routes during the snowy weather.
  • The city of Seattle has opened a severe weather shelter at Fisher Pavilion, City Hall, and several community centers through Feb. 15.
  • Check power outages with Puget Sound Energy here.
  • Check power outages with Seattle City Light here.

February snow is not unusual in western Washington

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond says we may often fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we do when it comes to snow in Seattle. After all, it feels like we've been warning folks that snow is coming for the last week.

But this time, there's good reason to be prepared for at least a few inches in the Seattle-metro area and even more in the South Sound region.

"We should plan for some impacts," Bond said. "Some hazardous driving conditions."

A snow event like this is not actually that surprising for February.

The National Weather Service in Seattle tweeted, "In the last decade in Seattle 58 inches of snow has fallen at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. More than half of it has occurred in February."

That's due in part to the "snowpocalypse" of 2019, Bond says.

While Seattle is not likely to see Snowpocalypse 2.0 this weekend, the area (and actually most of the country) is going to be cold — very cold.

National Weather Service Meteorologist says it's all thanks to this La Niña winter we're in.

"The upper-level pattern has evolved to where it's pushed cold air into most of the United States, including us," she explains. "And so then, we've got some Pacific moisture to go along with it, so those are our ingredients that we need here in the Northwest for snow."