With ‘rare’ cold snap forecasted, Seattle opens warming centers, prepares 24/7 road crews

Dec 23, 2021, 9:01 AM | Updated: Dec 24, 2021, 6:50 am
lowland snow, warming centers...
(File, MyNorthwest)
(File, MyNorthwest)

Temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s and teens following a potentially snowy weekend as a cold system flows in from the Alaska panhandle. To prepare, the city of Seattle is planning to open a few emergency warming shelters and ramp up its road service.

Forecasters agree snow is coming to the Seattle area, but when?

The City of Seattle held a news conference Thursday to update residents on preparations for the expected cold temperatures and snow.

A meteorologist from the National Weather Service confirmed that temperatures could dip into single digits next week, with freezing temperatures expected to linger into January.

“This is a rare event,” meteorologist Reed Walcott said in the press conference. “It’s been many years since those of us at the National Weather Service in Seattle have seen data like this, much like the heat that we experienced earlier this year. We urge everyone to make plans now to check in and ensure their loved ones, neighbors, pets and the entire community remain safe and healthy.”

The cold temperatures will present a risk of icy conditions across Seattle.

A representative from the Seattle Department of Transportation, Rodney Maxie, announced that the Seattle Department of Transportation will begin augmenting its service on Dec. 24, providing 24/7 road service. Maxie noted that, because the city is expected to see substantial rain Friday, it will be difficult for SDOT to adequately pretreat the roads with defroster.

View a map of Seattle’s snow plow routes here. During snow events, use the online Storm Response Map to see real-time updates about road conditions and which roads have been plowed.

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the Salvation Army and Compass Housing Alliance will operate the two warming shelters, one at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, and another at the Compass Housing Alliance Shelter in Pioneer Square. They will open nightly at 7 p.m., Dec. 25 through Dec. 29, and will provide space for 180-200 people.

Details about the shelters below:

Seattle Center Exhibition Hall — Operated by Salvation Army

301 Mercer Street, Seattle, WA 98109

  • Enter though main entrance off Mercer Street and go down the stairs. Serves 100+ people, all genders, 18+ years, non-aggressive leashed dogs and cats under owner control allowed. The Seattle Center campus hygiene station will be accessible. The Armory opens daily at 10 a.m. for day warming.
  • Served directly by Metro Bus routes 3, 4, 5, 8, 16, 28, RapidRide E Line, and nearby routes include: 1, 13, and RapidRide D Line.

Compass Housing Alliance Shelter in Pioneer Square

210 Alaskan Way South, Seattle, WA 98104

  • Enter at the corner of So. Washington and Alaskan Way. Serves 80+ people, all genders, 18+ years, service animals only at this location. Day Center also available at this location.
  • Served by nearby public transit services (1-3 blocks away): Seattle Streetcar, Link Light Rail, routes 21, 29, 55, 56, 57, 101, 102, 111, 113, 114, 120, 121, 115, 150, 162, 177, 190, 212, 214, 216, 217, 218, 550, 554, RapidRide C, ST 590, ST 592, ST 594, ST 595, ST 577, ST 578, PT 410, PT, 415, PT 417, PT 422, PT 424, and Washington State Ferries.

Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will be working over the Christmas weekend to help in the event of weather-related power outages.

City officials are asking residents to check on their neighbors and make sure they’re OK as temperatures start dropping. People are also asked to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and not to drive unless absolutely necessary.

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With ‘rare’ cold snap forecasted, Seattle opens warming centers, prepares 24/7 road crews