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City of Seattle Snow Response

SEATTLE (February 13, 2021) – After an overnight snowstorm blanketed the Seattle area with more than 7″ of snow,  the City of Seattle continues to monitor Northwest Weather Center forecasts, which predict an additional 1-3″ of snow and temperatures hovering near freezing throughout the day. The Office of Emergency Management activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) this morning, to coordinate citywide operations in response to the storm. 

Individuals who live, work, or spend time in Seattle are encouraged to sign up for free emergency alerts from AlertSeattle to receive winter weather and other emergency information via text, phone call, and email. Visit or text the word SEATTLE to 67283 to sign up.   

Seattle Department of Transportation   

Crews are working 24/7 to ensure the city’s most critical streets for buses and emergency services are clear, prioritizing 1,200 miles of Seattle’s most critical routes to hospitals, schools, emergency services, shelters, and major employers. Snowplow routes were updated based on the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure, and so people can get to COVID-19 testing sites. Crews are also deployed to clear dozens of pedestrian overpasses, stairwells, and curb ramps that are not near homes or businesses. 

Plowing operations started as soon as the snow started accumulating yesterday and our fleet kept running consistently throughout the night. Street closure signs have been placed around the City and we will continue to inspect, set, and reset street closure signs as needed to keep drivers off the steepest side streets. 

SDOT continues to work closely with our partner agencies to ensure that transit snow routes are clear of snow and ice as soon as possible.  

There are over 2,400 miles of sidewalks in Seattle. When it snows, everyone has a responsibility to shovel the sidewalks around their homes and businesses. Clearing these sidewalks isn’t just the law, it’s also the right thing to do so that everyone can travel safely during a snowstorm, especially people who are disabled or have a harder time getting around.    

  • Visit for information on how residents can stay safe, provides quick links for maps of power outages, snowplow routes as well as links to report down power lines and trees.    
  • Visit the SDOT Winter Weather Response webpage for more information, including a map of planned snow routes for live updates on which roads have been plowed during a storm.     
  • While SDOT is clearing surface streets, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will do their part to keep Seattle freeways as open to the extent possible but needs help from the traveling public to give crews room to work. If you need to venture out, the best decision is one that puts safety first. Visit for a guide on how to stay safe in hazardous driving conditions.      
  • Visit to determine if your bus route is operating and to find out whether it’s on the transit snow route.  You can also sign up for Transit Alerts, check out the Trip Planner webpage or app, and use Text for Departure by texting your bus stop number to 62550.    

Seattle Public Utilities    

Yesterday, about 2,800 SPU customers in Green Lake, Wallingford, Rainer Beach, and Seward Park did not have their garbage, recycle, and food waste collected. Those customers should set out their carts on their regular collection day (Friday). For those customers, twice the amount of waste will be collected at no additional charge.  

Transfers stations will close at 2pm, Saturday, February 13.  

What residents can do to help:   

  • Protect indoor sink pipes that are against exterior walls by opening under-sink cabinet doors to allow indoor heat to circulate.   
  • Allow one indoor faucet to slowly drip cold water. Select the faucet that is the farthest from your front door.    
  • 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.    
  • Drain and remove all outdoor hoses and cover faucets for hose bibs.   
  • 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 frozen pipes are suspected, follow these steps:    

  • Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home.   
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area.    
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using towels soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe, an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or an electric hairdryer. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. Do not use electrical devices if there is standing water.   
  • If a water pipe breaks, immediately close the main shut-off valve to stop flooding. The shut-off valve can be indoors or outdoors, usually in a basement, crawlspace, or garage.   
  • If you cannot turn off the main shut-off valve, SPU customers can call (206) 386-1800 and a crew will turn off the water at the meter for a service charge.    

Get the latest information on any delays involving garbage, recycling, and yard waste pickup via Twitter & the At Your Service blog.  

Seattle City Light   

Seattle City Light (SCL) monitors weather conditions to prepare for potential power outages caused by high winds, heavy rain, or snow and ice. SCL is prepared with the necessary equipment, supplies, chains for trucks, etc., to respond to any outage. In case of outages, SCL has crews on standby ready to respond and work 24/7 until every single customer’s power is back on. Customers can track outages on our online outage map –    

At this time, there are two outages affecting approximately 275 customers.  

Tips for staying safe in case of an outage:     

  • Be prepared for potential power outages with nonperishable food, flashlights, batteries, and blankets for every household member. Pets included.    
  • Charge your devices so you can pass the time, call if you need assistance, or keep an eye on the status of outages with our online outage map.    
  • If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized. Stay at least 35 feet away and call 911.     
  • During an outage, keep freezers and refrigerators closed.   
  • Close doors, windows, and curtains to retain heat. If safe, go to an alternate location for heating and cooling.   
  • If someone in your home is dependent on life support equipment, sign up for SCL’s Life Support Equipment Program for assistance during planned and unplanned outages.   
  • Avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – never bring generators, camp stoves, or barbeques indoors.   
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from potential electrical surges when power is restored.    
  • Find more tips at   

Human Services Department (HSD) 

Severe Weather Response 

The City of Seattle is operating four severe weather shelters which will remain open through the morning of Monday, February 15.    

  • Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion (305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109)  
  • Garfield Community Center (2323 East Cherry Street) 
  • Bitter Lake Community Center (13035 Linden Avenue North) 
  • City Hall (600 4th Avenue) 

These shelters, operated by Salvation Army, Compass Housing Alliance, and the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), can accommodate 239 guests.  

The City of Seattle is partnering with King County and Salvation Army to open City Hall as a severe weather shelter tonight, February 13. The shelter has capacity for 75 individuals.   

Last night, 145 people stayed in new shelter spaces, including five individuals in the new permanent shelter at First Presbyterian.  All four severe weather sites are 24-hours and overnight guests may remain in shelters during the day. Individuals will be served on a first-come, first-served basis each night. OSL (formerly Operation Sack Lunch) is providing meal service at all severe weather shelters. Community Center locations can accommodate pets and service animals. 

The temporary shelter spaces meet COVID-19 safety protocols recommended by Public Health-Seattle & King County and the Centers for Disease Control which calls for COVID-19 screening for guests, expanded space to allow physical distancing, hygiene access, and increased sanitation guidelines.   

There are no known impacts to case management programs assisting older adults and adults with disabilities. HSD will continue to monitor these programs and report service disruptions. During winter events, staff compiles lists of most at-risk case management clients and develops plans to provide care for people in the event of service disruption. 

The North Help Line Food Bank locations in Lake City and Greenwood are closed. Other food banks are regularly closed on the weekend.  

New Permanent Shelter 

A new permanent women’s shelter opened at First Presbyterian Church on First Hill on February 12. The program, operated by WHEEL, can accommodate up to 60 clients. Initially, it will operate as an overnight only shelter from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. but will become a 24/7 enhanced shelter in the coming weeks. This program will offer onsite case management and housing navigation services. The space includes showers, a dining area, nurse’s station, case manager’s office and storage. Five individuals stayed at the shelter last night.  

Lake City Community Center opened today to provide a warming space and hygiene spaces during the day. It will run through June to provide as a part of COVID-19 response, increasing hygiene resources for people experiencing homelessness.  

Outreach for People Experiencing Homelessness   

The HOPE Team was out last night doing welfare checks and transporting individuals experiencing homelessness to shelter. The Team will be back in the field this afternoon.  

  • The Team handing out supplies and will connect with Health One for any critical transportation needs.  
  • Transportation is limited due to COVID-19 precautions and weather. Anyone who can self-transport to shelter is encouraged to do so.  

Since Wednesday the Hope Team has: 

  • Shared information with 228 individuals about the temporary severe weather shelters 
  • Provided 199 individuals winter supplies (hats, gloves, hand warmers, etc.) 
  • Provided basic needs supplies (water, snacks, etc.) to 147 people and, 
  • Transported 23 individuals to temporary shelter  

Areas visited by the HOPE Team include, but are not limited to SODO, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Ballard, Lake City, Downtown, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and University District. 

Seattle Fire’s Health One unit has been operating 24/7 since Friday morning to provide hot drinks and cold weather supplies to people experiencing homelessness. The Health One unit has made 30 outreach contacts, transported three for medical care and coordinated with the HOPE team on transporting seven to shelters.  

During this period, the Health One unit’s operational area is primarily in the central areas of the city. SFD is coordinating with the HOPE team and other city partners but are not reachable by individuals directly at this time. The Seattle Police Department is on standby to assist with transporting individuals as needed. 

If you are in need of shelter, call 2-1-1 or 1-877-211-9274. For families with minor children, call YWCA’s late night shelter 24-hour intake line at 206-461-4882. For an emergency, call 9-1-1. 

Seattle Parks and Recreation   

  • During snow events, SPR maintenance staff focus on removing snow from critical park paths, sidewalks, and curb ramps, as well as around community centers. Crews have been out this week re-treating active childcare sites, shelter sites, and high-use areas.  
  • Our Tree Crew is prepared to work around the clock to respond to fallen trees and branches blocking paths, and our heavy equipment crews are prepared to respond to landslides at park sites and trails.     
  • When needed, SPR crews support citywide snow response efforts, including hauling salt and supporting SDOT in snow and ice control.     
  • The Human Services Department (HSD), in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), has opened Bitter Lake and Garfield Community Centers as 24-hour coed severe weather shelters. More info here. Lake City Community Center has been opened as a COVID Response Day Center serving unsheltered adults and couples. More info here
  • During inclement weather, some of the limited in-person programs we are currently offering, including childcare, may be impacted. Please visit our website for up-to-date information on program closures; for information on impacts to Child Care Programs, please refer to the Child Care Hotline: 206-684-4203.  
  • All SPR golf courses and ranges are closed today; courses are open for sledding and winter play. Athletic fields are closed for athletic activities but open for community play. Amy Yee Tennis Center is closed. Hygiene Shower Program: the showers at Rainier and Meadowbrook centers are closed today. Please visit our blog for updates. 

During snow events, our nearly 500 parks remain open, unless otherwise indicated. Please follow COVID-19 safety precautions when visiting parks or play areas, including using a face covering, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands frequently. We encourage all visitors to use caution in our outdoor spaces. Snow and ice can cause tree branches to snap; please stay out from under trees and avoid forested parks during a snow event.   

Office of Emergency Management   

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is monitoring weather conditions and impacts to City services while coordinating with departments and partnering agencies to ensure their operational needs are met. OEM will activate the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Saturday, February 13 to coordinate citywide operations in response to the storm.  

Seattle Fire Department    

Seattle Fire response units are chained up and traveling alternate routes where normal travel routes are not passable. They are also making sure sidewalks in front of their stations remain clear of ice and snow. 

All four of the City’s COVID-19 community testing sites are operating today and meeting walk-up and drive-through testing demand. SDOT and FAS have assisted by pretreating the parking lot areas and plowing the nearby access streets. If sites close early today, the information will be posted to the COVID-19 registration webpage and on Seattle Fire’s social media accounts.   

The SFD Mobile Vaccination team is in the field administering vaccines to our most vulnerable.  

Residents should regularly check for and move any combustible materials near space heaters and other home heating sources. Make sure any heaters are plugged directly into a wall outlet. Be sure to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never use a generator indoors, in a garage, or in a carport, and never cook inside on a charcoal or gas grill. Seattle Fire has historically responded to a lot of aid responses for slips and falls during snowstorms – wear sturdy shoes with good tread.   

Seattle restaurants with large outdoor dining tents should monitor and keep clear any canopy tops of snow and ice to prevent collapse. Smaller tents should be taken down to prevent injury and damage to the tent itself.   

Finance and Administrative Services Department   

Facilities, fleets, and logistics teams in the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) are actively engaged in 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 and FAS teams are also assisting the City’s Human Services Department in its activation of an emergency severe weather shelter in the Seattle City Hall lobby later this evening. 

The Seattle Public Library  

All service locations of The Seattle Public Library will be closed on Saturday, February 13. The Curbside service locations that will be closed are Central Library, Ballard Branch, Beacon Hill Branch, Broadview Branch, Douglass-Truth Branch, Lake City Branch, Northgate Branch, and the Southwest Branch. The restroom service locations that will be closed are Central Library, Ballard Branch, and the Capitol Hill Branch. All book drops at Library facilities will also be closed. Additionally, the parking garage at the Central Library will not be open to the public on Saturday. Virtual Library services will remain available, and patrons can access these by visiting Library leadership will evaluate conditions on Saturday afternoon to determine which service locations may open Sunday.