Epic Commute: Tim’s November 22, 2010 Snow Trek

Exactly one year ago today, on November 22nd, 2010, Seattle was hit by a relatively major (for the Seattle area) winter storm. Here are a few headlines from the day before, the day of, and the day after:

This is my story of that day.

Since it was snowing lightly throughout the day, I kept a fairly close eye on the traffic situation online, doing my part to contribute to the above-mentioned record web visits to WSDOT’s traffic website. Things were getting a bit hairy-looking as the day wound down, with I-5 north showing as stop-and-go, but the express lanes (which my bus usually took on the route home) still looking okay. At 4:30 PM, I decided to leave work.

I headed down to the bus stop at 6th and Union. A couple buses came by, but they were both completely packed to the gills. I started walking up the line to try to get on a bus earlier so as to maybe get a seat.

At 5:11 PM, I finally got on a bus at 3rd and Madison.

At 6:00 PM, the bus had traveled a grand total of three quarters of a mile. Speed on the bus: 0.9mph. Average human walking speed: 3.1mph. I got off the bus at 7th and Olive to try my luck on foot, since a quick calculation showed that with a little over 12 miles to go, at the speed we had been traveling at so far it would take over 13 hours to get home on the bus, versus just 4 hours on foot. While on the bus, I learned that the reason the express lanes looked okay online was that they were open to southbound traffic instead of northbound traffic like they are during every other evening commute. See the story above about that colossal fiasco.

After a quick stop at REI to buy a hat, I headed off at about 6:15 PM. When I got to the I-5 off ramp that my bus would usually take, there were no cars coming off the freeway. None. I later learned that this was because the freeway was completely blocked just south of the off ramp. I don’t know when it was eventually cleared.

I covered 8 miles in two hours to a friend’s house in Lake City, where I stopped for a 45-minute break to get some tea and dry socks.

At 9:00 PM, I headed out to take the four and a half mile walk the rest of the way home.

The whole time I was walking along Bothell / Lake City Way (SR-522), I saw so few cars drive by that I could count them all on two hands. I finally arrived home at 10:25 PM, just over four hours after getting off the bus. Who knows how long it would have taken me had I stayed on that bus.

The next few days I was pretty sore.

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