After the 50-60 degree temps of Seattle, we were in Arizona today for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.. In short, really was loving the 95 degree temperatures. It was like a trip back to summer and it was wonderful. We took a long walk, sat outside and relished in the heat.
A lot of people I grew up with complain about the “new” Seattle, or about the “different” Ballard. In fact, many of them have moved away to the suburbs. But I love the new Seattle. In the 1970s, Seattle was an industrial town. There were a few regional banks, an insurance company or two, and Boeing. It was an awful town to be a young single person in and there certainly weren’t great restaurants. But now? I love Seattle. It is booming, growing, with lots of young professionals moving in. THere are good restaurants, improving transportation, lots of energy. It is, for the first time ever, exciting to be here. The traffic? A bummer, but part of driving in a big city, and I try to work around it best I can. However, with growth comes skyrocketing costs, more inequality as non-professionals are pushed further out so must drive more, and increased homelessness (I don’t mind that they are here, I just wish we as a society would do more to fix the root problem so that people need not be homeless).
Wife M just told me about the “mystery coke machine” on Capitol Hill in Seattle, where you put in 75 cents and you get a random can of soda that is outside of your control/choice. No one know who fills the machine and who collects the money, but it is always stocked and apparently it is a “thing” in Seattle. I searched the Web and there are selfies etc. in front of it, which is placed right in front of a random house (which is across the street from the long-time-but-recently-torn-down funeral home). How cool! Even though I am approaching 50 years of life in Seattle and spent the better part of two years haunting Capitol Hill, I never heard of that before. I love how life is always filled with little surprises like that.
Today is cold by Seatttle standards (about freezing), and it is cloudy, but the sun is shining like a golden orb through the clouds and some flakes of snow are falling from the sky although the ground is still dry. We don’t get many days like this in Seattle, especially during Christmas week, and it is pretty. Yesterday was flat out clear and cold, and tomorrow is supposed to have some light snow then light rain.
In my lifetime there have been very few white Christmases. In 1983 they forecasted heavy snow but it came in as heavy rain instead, in 1990 we already had a lot of snow (a foot or more) by Seattle standards and it dumped another 6 inches early Christmas morning (i.e. overnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas), 1996 it snowed a *lot* the day after Christmas, 1997 it snowed Christmas Eve morning but melted by afternoon, and 2008 we had some residual snow from the previous week’s fairly heavy snows.
In my lifetime, most heavy snow periods last 1 to 5 days maximum. For example, in 1980 it snowed a lot on Monday and Tuesday, was clear and cold Wednesday and Thursday, and rained on Friday. That is pretty typical for Seattle’s so-called snowstorms. If I remember correctly, the years where we’ve had snow stick around for more than a week was the 1985 pre-Thanksgiving storm(s) that lasted over 2.5 weeks, the 1990 pre-Christmas storm that lasted from December 18th until about New Year’s, and the 2008 storm(s) that started in Mid-December and lasted until just after Christmas. That is about it.
Most Seattle heavy snows aren’t really forecasted until last minute — they’ll say for a few dasys “this storm is going to miss us but we might get a little snow” then the day of or day before they’ll modify it to, “Oh wait, the storm is sliding farther north/sout than we thought and we’re going to have heavy snow.” The 1990 storm they copletely misforecast (“maybe an inch or two” became a foot with high winds and freezing temperatures). In 1996 they forecasted heavy snow north of us for several days until 12 hours before the next wave hit they changed the forecast to heavy snow with the high temperature before dawn – that was fun!
Seattle is a mild area. There are only a few days of the year where it is hot (90s) or cold (30s), and despite our reputation for rain usually we are gray and drizzly with most of our rain coming in light-to-moderate storms in November and December, with some showers in the Spring. But occassionally we’ll get some pretty good systems in, usually one or two a year where winds pick up to 30 MPH and we get an inch or two of rain over a 24 hour period. It has always been this way, and I’ve lived in Seattle for all of my nearly 50 years of life.
But a strong system and the remnants of a Typhon are hitting us this week over a few days. Over night and this morning it rained steadily about as hard as it will over several hours (it will rain harder during SPring showers but only for 15 – 20 minutes), and the winds last night were 30+. A major windstorm is forecasted to hit us tomorrow, with wind gusts at 60 MPH, the strongest we’ve seen in 10 years (since 2006). Quite a few times these “big storms,” especially in regards to wind or snow, have a way of falling short of forecasts, so we’ll see. I remember a big predicted windstrom in December 1995 that were forecasted to approach gusts of 70 MPH, so they closed schools early, and it ended up being just a regular windstorm – strong, but not super strong. I think it is remarkably hard to predict wind and snow in Seattle due to mountains East and West, the Pacific Ocean plus Puget Sound Convergence zones. The one time I can remember a wind storm being about as advertised was the windstorm of 2006, and many of our biggest snowstorms usually have been predicted as “a few inches” of snow that suddenly strengthen or veer this way (also, many big snowstorms that were forecasted never materialized).
We’ll see what happens tomorrow. The grocery store was already crowded at 7 AM this morning, though 🙂
Wife M’s aunt J used to talk about the “hurricane” that hit Oregon. For example, there were a number of giant trees in the bottom of the lake where she lived, and she’d say they’d been blown down during the hurricane. I was always told that hurricanes didn’t hit the Pacific Northwest, so thought she was losing her faculties (i.e. she was getting older), but then a few years ago I read about the exceptionally strong storm (bordering on a hurricane) that rolled along the coast in 1962. Today is the anniversary of that storm, when 80 MPH winds hit Seattle and 9 people were killed in the state of Washington.
There have been a few very strong (scary) wind storms (not hurricanes) I remember in my life time. There was a strong one that hit Seattle in the fall of 1981 or 1982, when my parents took us down to Shilshole beach to experience the wind. And there was the strong storm that hit Seattle on Inauguration Day 1993. But the strongest of them all — the only one where I actually worried about our house and safety — was the December storm of 2006, when I thought our chimney was going to topple over. I lay awake for a couple of hours in the night listening to it, wondering how houses could withstand that, until I could hear it finally start to abate around 1 or 2 AM. The wind was literally howling that night, and sounded like a community of banshees. What I remember most about that storm otherwise is the torrential rain the night before, when a poor woman drowned in her basement when a flashflood hit their house. It was surreal, to drown in your basement in the heart of Seattle, and I am sure her loved ones have never forgotten that, and I won’t either.
WHen I was a kid, it was rare when I heard a car horn in Seattle. In fact, Seattleites were somewhat notorious for not honking. But I honestly can’t say when the last time was that I walked two blocks without at least one driver blasting the horn at a fellow driver. Then today, when trying to look how high the Ballard Bridge was, I came across a long series of posts where drivers and boaters are ranting at each other about when and/or if drawbridges should open, and it was pretty toxic and personal in spots. There is zero tolerance right now for each other. I don’t blame people, I blame how incredibly maxed out we all are right now. We are online all the time, we are doing the work by ourselves that two people used to do, and many of us are earning no more — or even less – than we were 10 years ago while costs conintue to go up. We are all stressed, and of course it is easy to take it out on everyone else all around us. Wild stuff. Sad stuff.
BTW From what I could tell, we can survive a jump from the Ballard Bridge. I was curious, because I remember back in 1991 when a car with two unfortunate teens went over the bridge and into the water below, and I always wondered if someone had jumped off the bridge into the water below to attempt to save the girls (from what I read, it wouldn’t have mattered as they likely would have died from the crash itself), would the jumpers have survived? I think they would have… I still think about those girls several times a month when I am driving over the bridge…