In December 2008, storms dumped 14 inches of snow on the city. Many streets were impassable for days, partly because the city refused to use salt on the streets to avoid polluting Puget Sound, which is saltwater, by the way. The next spring, Mayor Greg Nickels, head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, failed to advance past the primary.
"That was a difficult storm and a difficult winter," said city Transportation Department spokeswoman Marybeth Turner.
Since then, the city has decided salt isn't so bad after all and stockpiles are standing ready, Turner said. More than 30 city trucks can be equipped with plows that push when more than an inch of snow falls. Tankers roll when the temperature dips below freezing to pre-treat streets with salt brine.
Current Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn found money to embed sensors in streets to warn when roads are turning icy.
But, Seattle students haven't had any snow days this school year. They typically have at least one or two and often four or five, said spokeswoman Teresa Wippel.
"It's very unusual to not have a snow," Wippel said.
It's a big decision to send school buses out on slick hills or for the superintendent to call off classes.
Seattle typically goes without a big snow once or twice a decade, and the last winter without an episode was 2009-2010, said Burg, the meteorologist.
Transportation is the big concern for everyone who can't stay home when the snow falls, because any Seattle driver will tell you the other drivers don't know how to drive in snow.
"I don't trust any of the drivers around here so I walk to work" when it snows, said Burg.
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