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Winter Weather: Snow, Ice, and Severe Cold Impact Seattle This Week; Emergency Shelters Available (Updated 12/22)

The City of Seattle is tracking this week’s cold weather system and prepared to activate additional services as needed. This blog post will be updated with the latest information on places for people to get indoors and out of the cold, keeping critical infrastructure open, changes to City services, and tips to stay warm and safe.  

Last update: December 22 at 3:00 pm

Weather Forecast

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 4:00 PM Thursday through 7:00 PM Friday.

  • Snow may fall overnight, with potential accumulation in Seattle of up to 1 inch.
  • Freezing rain will begin to impact the Seattle area in the early morning hours, with the highest impacts expected during the morning commute. Rain that falls will freeze on surfaces, including roadways, sidewalks, and vehicles. Roadways and walkways will be slippery.
  • Extremely cold temperatures will continue overnight Thursday.
  • Temperatures will warm Friday into Saturday. An extended period of rain will continue through next week, which could cause localized flooding.

Weather Impacts

  • Driving conditions will be extremely hazardous.
  • Avoid travel Friday morning unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • If you must travel, keep winter safety supplies in your car, leave with a full tank of gas, and keep your cell phone charged. Plan ahead, go slow, treat signals without power as stop signs, and look out for plows or road closure signs.
  • If you are taking transit, check for service impacts before leaving. King County Metro will run on the Emergency Snow Network beginning at 4:00 AM Friday. Sound Transit service changes will be listed on their website.
  • Freezing rain can break tree limbs and power lines, causing power outages. Seattle City Light’s website has power outage safety tips to help you prepare for a loss of power.

Conditions overnight Thursday will include low temperatures well below freezing, potential wind chills in the single digits, snow, and freezing rain. These conditions are dangerous. Emergency warming spaces are available for people without shelter and their pets. All residents should keep pets indoors during extreme cold.

Indoor Spaces 

Public-facing city facilities like libraries and community centers can serve as a space to stay warm but their hours may be impacted during cold weather events.  

  • Shelters: The King County Regional Homelessness Authority is responsible for severe weather shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle. They have activated their Severe Weather Response through 12/24/22, which includes both overnight shelters and day centers. Click here for more information and a list of locations and hours.  
  • Seattle City Hall: City Hall is available as an overnight shelter for people 18+ experiencing homelessness. It will be open from 6pm – 7am until 12/24/22. Anyone seeking shelter should enter City Hall from 600 Fourth Avenue.
  • Seattle Center: Seattle Center will open an overnight shelter for people 18+ experiencing homelessness at Fisher Pavilion. It will be open from 7pm to 9am. Seattle Center Armory will be open to serve as a warming center during the day. The building is open 7am – 8pm daily. 
  • Community Centers: Seattle Parks and Recreation Community Centers hours may be impacted by staff capacity and weather. Please check here to get up to date information about any impacts to community center hours, programming, or school-age/preschool programs.   
  • Libraries: Seattle Public Library branch hours may be impacted by staff capacity and weather. Please visit to check for any unanticipated closures or delays in opening. 

Critical Infrastructure 

City staff are ready to work 24/7 to keep critical infrastructure like roads, drains, and power lines operating during a winter weather event. But we also rely on residents to help clear sidewalks and drains as we all look out for our neighbors. 

Roads and Transit 

Sidewalks and Storm Drains 

  • Residents and businesses are responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks and helping keep them accessible for our neighbors. It’s the law, and the right thing to do.  
  • Residents and businesses can also help by clearing leaves and debris from storm drains ahead of storms and ice. If storm drains back up and clog, they can cause flooding and serious damage.  

Power and Preparedness 

Solid Waste Collection

  • If snow and ice develop, conditions may be unsafe for solid waste collection, and your pickup could be delayed for a day or more. Visit the Seattle Public Utilities At Your Service blog for the latest information on delays in service.
  • If there are delays, SPU will send notifications to impacted customers via AlertSeattle notifications.
  • If your waste is not picked up on your collection day, leave out your carts the following day. If they haven’t been collected by the end of the following day, bring them in and set them out on your next collection day. 

City Services

Winter weather events may cause delays in City services or temporary closures / reduction of hours at City facilities. Sign up for AlertSeattle to get notified of service impacts and check facility websites for the latest information. 

  • Emergency Alerts: If you would like to receive free alerts about service impacts during snowstorms and other emergencies, sign up for AlertSeattle. AlertSeattle is the City’s official emergency alert system. Sign up for text, email, or phone alerts when emergencies happen near your home, school, workplace, and anywhere else in Seattle. To sign up for alerts and customize alert settings, create an AlertSeattle profile. To sign up for text alerts only, text SEATTLE to 67283. 
  • Schools: Visit the Seattle Public Schools website for information on SPS winter weather response plans and procedures. 

Cold Safety 

Winter storms bring snow, ice, and cold temperatures. These conditions can make traveling and spending time outdoors difficult and even dangerous. Get indoors, dress in layers, and take extra caution to stay safe while staying warm during a cold weather event. 

  • Stoves: Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors. The fumes are deadly. 
  • Heaters: Keep space around baseboard or portable heaters clear, plug them directly into wall not an extension cord, and always turn off before leaving room or going to bed. More tips here
  • Pipes: If your pipes burst, immediately close the main shut-off valve to stop flooding. If you cannot turn off the main shut-off valve, SPU customers can call (206) 386-1800 for assistance. 
  • Animals: Bring pets indoors and let outside only when necessary. Dry them if they get wet to avoid cuts, check them for ice clearing chemicals after a walk, and do not leave them in a car alone because can drop quickly. Keep fireplaces screened and heaters out of reach. 

Home Preparedness 

The best time to start preparing your home for winter weather is before an event occurs. Understanding how to protect your home from the dangers of frozen pipes and heating fires is key, as is having a plan for any family medical needs and furry friends ahead of an emergency.  

  • Health: Winter weather means more time spent indoors with others, which means it is more important than ever to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID to protect yourself and others. Make an appointment to today. Winter weather also means possible impacts to travel and deliveries, which means you should plan ahead to have sufficient medical supplies on hand.  
  • Heaters: Home heaters are working extra hard with the cold weather, and heating-related fires are the second most common type of fires this time of year. Before a cold weather event occurs, make sure your portable heater is independently tested and has an automatic shut off feature. For your home furnace system, inspect equipment yearly and clean or replace filters regularly.  
  • Pipes: Protect water pipes from freezing in exposed or unheated areas (attics, basements, and garages) before a cold weather event by wrapping them with tape and insulating materials from hardware stores. 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.  
  • Animals: Have a go-kit ready for pets that includes food and medications and will last at least a week if the need to leave home arises. More tips from the Seattle Animal Shelter here.  

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