Gone is the pretty snow, what's left is slushy mess

Gone is the pretty snow, what's left is slushy mess
SEATTLE -- From "snowpocalypse" to "slushageddon"?

Many residents who went to sleep with a blanket of snow on their lawns Tuesday night awoke to a drippy, slushy mess Wednesday morning as warmer temperatures moved in and the overnight snow changed to a moderate rain.

The melting snow helped alleviate fears of an icy morning commute, but many school districts closed or announced delayed start times (see full list), and Metro buses in King County were operating on snow routes just to be sure.

The main freeways were in good shape Wednesday morning, but side streets were the greatest challenge as drivers faced a mix of snow and standing water. The National Weather Service issued an Urban Stream Flooding Advisory for the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Everett areas for ponding water due to rain and melting snow. But State Department of Transportation officials said there were no major blocking problems on area highways.

If there had to be a perfect time for a 6-hour snowstorm, Mother Nature might have found it. The snow began in the greater Seattle area just before 7 p.m. -- allowing just enough time for most commuters to make it home on bare, dry roads. However, those who ventured out after the snow began did face some slick roads, and police responded to numerous spin-outs and collisions later in the evening -- several on I-5 and I-405.

One car traveling down a slick, snowy hill in Tukwila slid over an embankment and landed on its roof on Sound Transit Central Link light rail tracks. The driver suffered minor injuries; the tracks were cleared by late Tuesday night.

But long about midnight, the warmer air finally began to win the battle and snow changed to rain -- giving ample time to melt a good chunk of the snow before the Wednesday morning commute began.

Some observed snow totals before the change to rain:

  • Birch Bay: 7"
  • Belfair: 5"
  • Renton (East): 4"
  • Redmond: 4"
  • Mill Creek: 4"
  • Port Orchard: 4"
  • Mountlake Terrace: 3"
  • Issaquah: 3"
  • Gig Harbor: 3"
  • Olympia: 3"
  • Mukilteo: 3"
  • Seattle (Greenwood): 3"
  • N. Bothell: 2.75"
  • Shoreline: 2.5"
  • Seattle (Finn Hill) 2.5"
  • Monroe: 2.5"
  • Port Angeles: 2"
  • Lynnwood: 2"
  • South Everett: 2"
  • Kirkland: 2"
  • Duvall: 2"
  • Sammamish: 1.5"
  • Puyallup S. Hill: 1.25"
  • S. Tacoma: 1"
Aside from the slush still on the roads for a while, Wednesday will look and feel like a typical stormy Seattle day. We'll see rain, moderate to heavy at times, with gusty south winds. Winds along the coast and Northwest Interior could gust to 50 mph while gusts in the Puget Sound area could reach 35-45 mph.

Gobs of Snow in Mountains

If you're itching to experience what 20 inches of snow would have been like, just head to the mountains. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 4 p.m. Wednesday for 12-24 inches of new snow by then. For the passes, it'll remain a mix of snow and freezing rain -- especially at Snoqualmie for freezing rain -- so plan on potentially treacherous driving conditions in the pass.

Five Storms In Seven Days

While we ponder what could have been one of the snowiest weeks in Seattle history, the reality will be that we'll be dealing with a rather wet and windy stretch of weather. Forecast models show five moderately strong storms, each packing period of steady moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds, that will blow through the region between Wednesday and Sunday.

But each storm is expected to pass to our north, keeping it rather mild with high temperatures around 50 and lows only in the 40. By the weekend, Seattle might have received at least 1-2" of rain and we'll be keeping an eye out for any potential river flooding or landslide issues but so far, no advisories are issued.

Long range models indicate perhaps a brief cool down early next week, but the overall weather pattern looks pretty benign.

See Gallery of Weather Photos

During the storm we received some fantastic photos. You can check them out on our YouNews site