How to Shutdown Redmond, WA: 1/2 Inch of Wet Snow

Holy crap. That’s the only way to describe what was going through my mind after walking into the warmth of home tonight. My usual twenty-minute drive home from Microsoft was one-hundred-and-twenty minutes. All because of one-half an inch of snow.

Most people from a snowy part of the country can’t understand how the Northwest shuts down with just an inch of snow. Well, Redmond streets were for the most part shutdown tonight in the middle of rush-hour. How does it happen? It’s a one-two punch, from what I saw tonight.

First: the fancy sports cars. You know, the rear-wheel drive ones? The owners get about a half-a-block out of their parking lot before those rear-wheels start spinning on the compacted wet snow (aka, ice) and drift to the curb. End game. Now everyone behind them has to merge over. Enough sports cars staggered through the roads pretty much shutdown one of the lanes.

Second: the compact cars with front-wheel drive. We do not live in a flat place. Mixing an incline, a hill, or a bridge with a light front-wheel drive car and someone who doesn’t drive in snow that much leads to flashing hazard lights and an abandoned car. And more creative driving to get around the flashing-hazard light obstacle.

So here’s a new rule for all sports car drivers: you have to splurge and buy an old, used Subaru. If there’s a hint of snow forecasted, that’s what you drive to work. And what the hell… wear a flannel plaid shirt, too, that day.

My Subaru Outback was stellar tonight. It didn’t get any challenges until the end of my drive home.

By the time I made it to my street off of highway 202, I was hoping that people weren’t using the side-road to my house as a place to pull over and give up. I turned and I stopped: there was a car blocking my path. d’oh. Fortunately, it ended up being my neighbor. Unfortunately, her car couldn’t get traction up the hill. Her husband and I tried to push it for a bit, but gave up and saw a nice place to park it near the mailboxes.

I offered to drive them up the hill to their house. Up we went up with the Subaru on the fresh wet snow, which was now easily two (two!) whole inches. No problem – it probably helped to have two passengers. I dropped them off and headed up our long driveway. Now, the Subaru had to do some serious work here. It did slip some and I had to get a bit creative with the clutch. Around the corner I went into the garage, the ABS light on my dash proudly lit.

It’s beautiful outside. One nice thing about wet snow is that it clings to every branch in the trees, embracing them with a fuzzy white fur of snow. I look forward to taking some photos in the morning.

As for getting down the hill in the morning… that’s going to be a different challenge.

News from the Seattle-PI: Snow continues to grip region, snarling Seattle traffic .

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