The City of Seattle is tracking this week’s cold weather system and preparing to activate additional services as needed. This blog will be updated with the latest information on places for people to get indoors and out of the cold, keeping critical infrastructure open, changes to City services, and tips to stay warm and safe.
Forecast Update: Week of 11/28
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Seattle area from Tuesday 11/29 at 1:00 PM through Wednesday 11/30 at 10:00 AM and a Wind Advisory from Tuesday 11/29 at 4:00 PM through Wednesday 11/30 at 7:00 AM. Snow accumulations up to 3 inches are possible. Gusty winds may blow down tree limbs or unsecured objects, which may cause power outages. Low temperatures this week will be near or below freezing. Rain and melted snow may re-freeze overnight when temperatures drop below freezing. There may be impacts to streets, highways, and transit systems due to snow accumulation and slippery roadways. Cold temperatures and the potential for rain and snow will continue through the week. Check the weather and road conditions before traveling on roads or taking public transit.
Public-facing city facilities, including libraries and community centers, are open and available during their regular business hours and can serve as a space to stay warm during cold weather. Click here for a map of spaces to get indoors and out of the cold.
Shelters: The King County Regional Homelessness Authority manages severe weather shelters for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. They have activated their Severe Weather Response through 12/2/22, which includes both overnight shelters and day centers. Click here for more information and a list of locations and hours.
Seattle Center: Seattle Center will open an overnight shelter for people 18+ experiencing homelessness at Fisher Pavilion. It will be open from 7pm to 9am and is planned to be open through Sunday 12/4. Seattle Center Armory will be open to serve as a warming center during the day. The building is open 7am – 8pm daily.
Community Centers: Seattle Parks and Recreation Community Centers will be open to the public based on staff capacity. Please check here to get up to date information about any impacts to community center hours, programming, or school-age/preschool programs.
Libraries: Some Seattle Public Library branch schedules may be impacted by snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast. Please visit spl.org/Today or your branch webpage on spl.org before visiting to learn about any unanticipated closures or delays in opening.
City staff are ready to work 24/7 to keep critical infrastructure like roads, drains, and power lines operating during a winter weather event. But we also rely on residents to help clear sidewalks and drains as we all look out for our neighbors.
Roads and Transit
Don’t drive if you don’t have to during the snowstorm and after due to likely icy conditions. If you must drive, please slow down, be careful, and pay attention to road closure signs. Carry chains or other traction devices and be prepared to put them on. Make sure windows are clear and the snow is removed from the entire car before driving. Watch out for others and leave plenty of room from snowplows and other vehicles.
SDOT has worked with hospitals, emergency services and transit agencies to identify over 1,000 miles of the city’s most critical routes to plow during a snowstorm. SDOT has a fleet of over 50 vehicles with snow and ice fighting equipment, and crew members from multiple departments are ready to work 24/7 if needed.
See the snow plow route map, see real-time updates of which roads have been recently plowed, and learn more on the SDOT Winter Weather web page.
Visit MetroWinter.com for King County Metro transit updates. Visit Sound Transit for updates on Light Rail.
Sidewalks and Storm Drains
It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep sidewalks in front of your home or business clear of snow and ice. It’s the law and the right thing to do so that everyone can travel safely, especially people who have a harder time getting around. SDOT also has a large team of people working to shovel public stairways, curb ramps, bus stops, and pedestrian bridges, but we can’t be everywhere at once and depend on everyone to do their part. Click here for a video highlighting the importance of looking out for our neighbors and keeping sidewalks clear.
Storm drains are more likely to get backed up and clogged during the fall and winter, which could cause flooding and serious damage. By clearing leaves and debris ahead of storms and ice, you can reduce ponding and flooding in your neighborhood. Remember to wear gloves while clearing your storm drain. Put excess leaves from parking strip into the yard waste container or paper lawn & leaf bags and set out for collection.
Power and Preparedness
Seattle City Light is prepared with necessary equipment, supplies, chains for trucks, etc., to respond to any outage. Should there be widespread outages, City Light has crews on standby ready to respond and work 24/7 until every single customer is back on. Track power outages on the Seattle City Light Outage Map, or call (206) 684-3000 to report an outage. Follow these tips for staying safe in case of an outage. If you see a downed power line, call 911. Do not touch or approach a downed power line, assume all wires are energized and dangerous.
Facilities, fleets and logistics teams in the Department of Facilities and Administrative Services (FAS) are actively engaged and supporting deicing operations at various facilities across the City. FAS teams have emergency generators on standby and ready to access should power disruptions occur. Fleet Management crews are operating 24/7 in support of SDOT’s efforts. Additionally, FAS’ Customer Service Centers remain open per their regular schedules at this time and will close only if conditions require.
Winter weather events may cause delays in City services or temporary closures / reduction of hours at City facilities. Sign up for AlertSeattle to get notified of service impacts and check facility websites for the latest information.
Emergency Alerts: If you would like to receive free alerts about service impacts during snowstorms and other emergencies, sign up for AlertSeattle. AlertSeattle is the City’s official emergency alert system. Sign up for text, email, or phone alerts when emergencies happen near your home, school, workplace, and anywhere else in Seattle. To sign up for alerts and customize alert settings, create an AlertSeattle profile. To sign up for text alerts only, text SEATTLE to 67283.
Solid Waste: If snow and ice develop, conditions may be unsafe for solid waste collection, and your pickup could be delayed for a day or more. If there are delays, SPU will send notifications to impacted customers via AlertSeattle notifications. If your waste is not picked up on your collection day, leave out your carts the following day. If they haven’t been collected by the end of the following day, bring them in and set them out on your next collection day.
Schools: Visit the Seattle Public Schools website for information on SPS winter weather response plans and procedures.
General Cold Safety
Winter storms bring snow, ice, and cold temperatures. These conditions can make traveling and spending time outdoors difficult and even dangerous.
Avoid and postpone road travel when possible, if you must drive go slow and be careful.
Dress in layers to stay warm and keep clothing dry. Wear a hat to prevent loss of body heat.
Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors. The fumes are deadly.
For more winter weather safety tips, information on the City’s snow response, and to connect with other resources, visit seattle.gov/winterweather.
The best time to start preparing your home for winter weather is before an event occurs. Understanding how to protect your home from the dangers of frozen pipes and heating fires is key, as is having a plan for any family medical needs and furry friends too.
Pipes: Protect water pipes from freezing in exposed or unheated areas (attics, basements, and garages) by wrapping them with tape and insulating materials from hardware stores. Know where your shutoffs are located. If an emergency occurs, you’ll need to know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. You’ll want to know where these are BEFORE an emergency happens. If your pipes burst, immediately close the main shut-off valve to stop flooding. If you cannot turn off the main shut-off valve, SPU customers can call (206) 386-1800 for assistance. More tips at https://seattle.gov/utilities/weather
Heaters: Home heaters are working extra hard with the cold weather, and heating-related fires are the second most common type of fires this time of year. As a reminder, make sure to give heaters space and take additional precautions to prevent heating-related fires in your home.
Do not put anything close to or draped across any type of heater.
Never use an extension cord with a portable heater, always plug the heater directly into a wall outlet.
Turn portable heaters off before leaving the room or before going to bed
Watch our heating safety video (available in multiple languages): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrrbCcncevENYzmGZbfQpR