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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Yuppies and Snow: Cause for Concern

I’m back on the West Side; it’s snowing here too and the yuppies are posing a severe public safety hazard with their driving. It’s bad, very bad, and I don’t mean the weather. 

Actually, at most there’s about six inches of fun-loving powder on the residential roads. Everywhere else is nicely plowed or compacted down to a hard surface any half-decent snow tire can handle with a minimal amount of guidance from a competent driver. 

Here lies the problem. 

Take a gander at the headlines from the Seattle Times Post-Intelligencer and the story surfaces it’s gnarled head: “Crazy” storm unleashes wind, snow/ICY SLIDE TO THE BRINK; WORSE WEATHER LOOMS/“Very dangerous” storm on the way. 

The Saturday, December 20, issue of the Times shows a Northwestern tour bus hanging over the guardrail above the intersection of East Thomas Street and Melrose Avenue above Interstate 5. There appears to be just enough snow on the roads to qualify as a ground cover. 

Quotes from the bus passengers, also included on the front page are as followed: “We were all screaming. I thought we were going to die,” said Alex Hammell, 16 of Bothell, and “We were going downhill really fast, and the driver tried to turn but couldn’t turn, and we crashed into the other bus. People started screaming and glass exploded,” said Kiela Current, 18 of Spokane.

Really? I drove up to Spokane from Pullman Wednesday over where the real storm was just setting in on Highway 179 North. One Spokanimal passed me on the unplowed left lane in a Ford Explorer towing a Honda Civic that was waving behind the undersized SUV like an ecstatic dog tale jockeying for a pass of it’s own. 

It wasn’t safe, but the point is that guy was damned confident in his snow driving capabilities, and as far as I know he made it somewhere out of a newspaper photographer’s range before causing a serious accident. Well done.

That’s the difference between East side and West side winter-time drivers so far as I can tell: when the snow starts to fall, the East side people get where they need, or perhaps more importantly want to go, regardless of whether or not it’s “safe” to do so. 

West-siders on the other hand seem to think that dooms day is directly correlated to weather-related school closures that take place around 3-6 inches of snow. They crawl beneath their hemp blankets until their few remaining ill-prepared drivers are done careening down hills with their brakes locked while their Starbucks coffee scalds their groins to a douchy Christmas hue. 

Heaven forbid they might have to strap on an extra pair of socks to keep their feet warm in their Birkenstocks and navigate their way around the city with a moderate level attention to their driving. 

I awoke Thursday morning in Spokane to find a good 24 inches of snow on the ground with the weather reports calling for another 15 inches of the white death in the coming hours. Did I retreat back to bed in a cowardly submission? Was my Mini-Cooper equipped with low-profile tires so stylishly undersized that they could not be outfitted with a pair of chains?

No! I took a year off my back shoveling my Aunt’s driveway and kept my momentum up as I hung a right onto Monroe in a borrowed four-wheel drive pickup equipped with decent snow tires. After several trips around the block I managed to locate the on-rap to I90 West behind a snow bank and merged my ass back onto the southbound highway to Pullman. 

Damn straight it was dangerous, but I enjoyed the opportunity to brave the weather while improving my hazardous driving skills and made it home without incident. 

Point being, after two consecutive days of witnessing the different reactions to the winter storm that is hovering around Washington’s polar opposites, I’ve found that each side is equally dangerous, just in different ways. 

The real difference is that there really isn’t any kind of legitimate snow on the West side of the state to be worried about. It gets dicey in some areas, but for the most part, people are flipping their wigs over less than a quarter of the storm that’s hitting the Spokane area. 

With busses nearly flying off overpasses, maybe the yuppies do have reason to be fearful for their lives. Then again, Spokane drivers don’t seem to have a problem blitzkrieging through snow drifts towing their compact cars as a backup ride.…maybe somewhere around Yakima there’s a happy medium. 

Here’s hoping.


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Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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