Home > Today's News, Travel > Seattle Driving after Snow

Seattle Driving after Snow

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments
Above I-5, just north of downtown

Above I-5, just north of downtown

In my previous post, I described Joel’s decision to fly home from Boston on Thursday, a day early, in order to avoid Friday’s snowstorm. As I noted, we had our own snowstorm here in Seattle on Thursday. Our storm would have been a minor nuisance in Boston, but here, with the hills and with only limited plowing and sanding, when it snows and the temperatures stay below freezing, driving is always pretty chancy.

On Thursday night we made it safely to SeaTac airport and back to get Joel. Yesterday, with Joel safely home, we headed out just before 2:00 PM to do some shopping at Costco. We chose the one south of downtown in order to maximize the likelihood of driving on roads (mostly I-5) with a minimum of ice. As we came around the corner from State Route 520 to I-5 southbound, we found ourselves in unexpected traffic. We couldn’t imagine what the problem was, since the road was fine. It took a mile and maybe 10 minutes before I looked up and saw what you can see in the photo above. I couldn’t believe it. It looked far more dramatic in person than this photo suggests, with two buses crashed into the fence on the retaining wall above I-5, and the northerly one’s front wheels completely suspended in air. This was, of course, the source of our traffic slowdown. Everyone was looking.

Another angle

Another angle

It turns out that the accident had occurred just about an hour and a half earlier, at 12:30 PM. Three buses got off I-5 and couldn’t pass over it on Denny Way because the Denny Way bridge over the freeway was closed. They improvised, heading north a few blocks and then turning west, for unknown reasons, onto Thomas Street, which doesn’t cross I-5. The buses didn’t have chains. The first one skidded down the steep hill, the second one followed and hit the first, and you can see the result. Pretty scary for all involved. The third bus didn’t make the turn. What could the drivers have been thinking? For more details, see here, with an accompanying slide show here.

You can see why we try to keep our driving to a minimum when it snows here.

Categories: Today's News, Travel
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