Sunday, December 24, 2006


Well it's time for the annual Christmas post. I wish you all happy holiday, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...

Here is a post I wrote a few weeks ago during the blackout in Western Washington. I didn't publish it at first because I didn't have power. Then, once I got power, I decided I didn't like my description of the latest storm. It was poorly worded and too anti-climactic. I was going to fix it, but I never did, but I shall give it to you on this generous holiday:


If you were wondering why I informed you that I wouldn't be posting while optimizing my project when I don't post all the much anyway, it's because I planned to share the recent, unusual weather besetting Seattle (well, it's been plaguing much of Western Washington, but I'm a Seattle snob, so I need not be inclusive in my terminology).

In November the Pineapple Express delivered record breaking rain, causing massive flooding in a region equipped for rain. The deluge was so powerful that it destroyed or disabled areas at Mt. Rainer N.P. It's been a month since the first flood, and the park is still closed (yet another record as no National Park has closed for more than two weeks).

After the intense rain, November decided it hadn’t quite left its mark. So in its last week rather than the usual rain and flooding, it turned down the temperatures a notch, just to give us some snow. “Whoo hoo! Snow in the city, that means much more in the mountains for skiing.” I’ll admit it was nice for a while, but then it tricked us. After the Sunday snow, it cleared up Monday morning. Monday was even sunny for a while. Then, right around the afternoon rush hour it started again, and like the old energizer bunny it kept going and going.

The problem with this level of snow is that Seattle is not a snow friendly city, which is something I learned while driving in it. That is, if you can call taking your foot off the brake every 5 minutes to move up an inch driving, then I was driving in it. I was stuck in Redmond (see picture) with all the Microsofties leaving work and went at a pace of one mile per hour (no exaggeration). The snow had the western half of the state at a standstill, but why?

If you know the topography of the western portion of the state, you’ll understand why. It’s not exactly flat here. In fact, just to get home after exiting a freeway, I must drive down at least 2 steep grades, and up 2. That, mixed with slippery roads makes for a difficult driving. Secondly, I think drivers here are content with water pouring down, but that white precipitation really takes them out of their comfort zone.

Like a lot of people, I gave up. I was at a student’s house in Redmond, so I just stayed the night. Some of those stuck on the freeways slept in their cars or ditched them for who knows what.

Unfortunately, that was not the worst of it. During the night the temperatures dropped even more and Tuesday morning welcomed us with frozen roads. Again, much of city was immobile as an ice covered road offers no traction, flat or steep. I wanted to go home, so I decided to brave the icy roads. I just had $5000 worth of repairs on my car, why not. I just put my gear in 1st, raised my foot over the brake, poised to pump it, and slid on my merry way.

The latest storm, which is occurring as I type this (as of 12/24/2006 not anymore) dumped buckets of rain with strong winds. The problem with this type of storm is that the saturated soil has become soft, leaving nothing for roots to grasp and trees falling in the wind. The problem with that is that they’ve been falling on power lines. As I write over a million are without power, including your humble author (I discovered later I was one of the lucky ones, I had power within a day, some had to wait over a week).

So to all my friends, come on over, the worst is over. Ignore the big volcano and fault lines.