Winter Weather Response

Our goal is to achieve bare and wet pavement on specified streets within 12 hours after a significant lull in the storm.

Winter Weather Response Map

During major winter storms, plan your trip by seeing where the snow plows have been and viewing traffic cameras.

View the interactive Winter Weather Response Map

2017/2018 Winter Weather Brochure and Snow Route Map

Our annual winter weather brochure has a large map of Seattle's snow and ice routes, lists important telephone numbers and websites to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips. 

We distribute these free brochures to all Seattle Public Library branches, City of Seattle Customer Service Centers, and to all Seattle Public School elementary schools. Our annual winter weather brochure has a large map of Seattle's snow and ice routes, lists important telephone numbers and websites to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips. 

Download the full brochure in:

Seattle's Winter Environment

We've developed a snow and ice response plan that is appropriate for Seattle's weather to keep major streets open and passable to the greatest extent possible. Our city has unique challenges.

In Seattle, some winters bring heavy snowfall and other years see no snow accumulation at all. A weather phenomenon called the Puget Sound Convergence Zone causes some parts of the city to get inches of snow, while other parts get rain or even sun.

Seattle is not Snoqualmie Pass! In Seattle, we may use the same trucks for paving streets one day and for winter weather response the next. An investment in equipment that is exclusively dedicated to snow fighting would not be a good value for taxpayers year to year. Steep topography, like the Queen Anne Counterbalance, First Hill, and the intersection of 35th Avenue SW and Avalon, add to the complexity of snow fighting in Seattle. Hills can consume lots of time and effort and still not be drivable. A few stuck cars can tie up an important arterial for hours.

In any city, snow fighting is complicated by urban factors like parked cars and narrow streets. Cities with regular heavy snowfall often have winter parking restrictions that make it easier to plow streets. Since we don't have regular significant snowfall in Seattle, these sorts of parking restrictions are not practical.

What to Expect When it Snows

Know the routes on the Winter Weather snow and ice route map! We're committed to clearing snow from identified routes throughout the city within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm. The map can help you know what to expect.

We commit to using all the tools at our disposal to make sure the people of Seattle and our interagency partners are fully informed and involved in our snow response. SDOT and Metro have worked together to keep bus routes as clear of snow and ice as possible. The goal is to enable people to get around the city by bus, making it easier to leave their cars at home.

Drivers have some special responsibilities. If driving is unavoidable, drivers are responsible for outfitting their cars for winter weather, including chains or other traction devices. We will plow snow to the right so that melting snow will not pass back over the street surface and refreeze when the temperature drops at night. If your car is parked on a snow route, you may have to dig it out.

Businesses and residents are responsible for shoveling and de-icing the sidewalks next to their property.