Heavy snow and lightning at the end of February? In Seattle? Something’s happening here, and weather guru Cliff Mass makes it clear.
“As predicted, a strong convergence zone has formed over Puget Sound, producing heavy precipitation and lightning,” the University of Washington professor wrote in a blog entry about Seattle’s surprise snowstorm.
“The heavy precipitation is driving the freezing/snow levels towards the surface, and there is mixed rain/snow here at the UW,” Mass said. “Did you notice how the snow was associated with the heaviest precipitation?”
Heavy, wet, fluffy snow happens when part of the atmosphere is near or just above freezing, causing snowflakes to melt partially and stick together as they fall. The result? Snowfall in Seattle that looks like a scene on a Christmas card.
A rare lightning strike at the Needle! Wild weather blowing through the city – stay safe, Seattle! pic.twitter.com/19bpMs97FO
— Space Needle (@space_needle) February 27, 2017
The snow came in two waves: one in the morning, and another around 3:30 p.m., just in time for the height of the afternoon commute. There were also some impressive displays of lightning, including a significant strike on the Space Needle.
As if that weren’t enough to tie up downtown traffic, authorities were also dealing with a morning accident that left a tanker truck filled with liquid petroleum gas overturned on Interstate 5. All lanes of traffic in both directions were shut down in both directions.
The tangled traffic wreaked havoc with ride-share rates:
Seattle thundersnow + Interstate 5 traffic insanity = 500 percent Lyft surge pic.twitter.com/KPzA3A8B9G
— Paige Cornwell (@pgcornwell) February 28, 2017
As the afternoon turned into evening, lanes on I-5 were still closed. Check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website and the @WSDOT_Traffic Twitter account for updates.
“Hopefully, the lightning won’t get near the overturned truck,” Mass wrote.