Seattle creates an impression that it’s a rainy city. With steady rainfall across fall, winter, and occasionally, even spring, you may be wondering if it ever snows. Does it snow in Seattle?
Yes, it does snow in Seattle; however, it is not as common as other snowy cities in the US. Neighborhoods like Queen Anne Hill and Beacon Hill may experience snow every winter but not always. These occasional snowfalls sometimes come in heavy, though.
This article answers more than just, ‘Does it now in Seattle?’ From other questions like, ‘How often does it snow in Seattle’ to winter destinations and activities in Seattle, you’d get to know the city in-depth, specifically in wintertime.
Seattle’s Snow History
The most significant snowfall that Seattle experienced was in 1880 when 64 inches of snow blanketed the city. 21 inches of pristine snowcap was also recorded in 1916, then again in 1950. In 1996 and 1997, the snow melted too quickly and caused landslides.
Weather In Seattle
The city’s weather mainly depends on how the Pacific Ocean behaves. When cold air pushes from the ocean’s core toward the Puget Sound region (which Seattle is part of) and lingers, snow and cold spells occur, sometimes excessively.
Seattle sometimes experiences severe winters, with temperatures lingering at freezing up to a few days. One instance was the snowstorm in 2009 when about 6 inches of snow stayed on the ground for days.
Since Seattle sits on seven hills surrounded by water, even minor snowfalls could turn some bridges and roads into thin sheets of ice. Snowplowing isn’t a significant initiative in Seattle, given how seldom snow visits the city. However, until the snow melts away, moving around is sometimes challenging.
When Does It Snow in Seattle?
Seattle gets snow in January, February, March, and November. Here are the average snowfalls and snow days for each month.
Average Snowfall Per Month:
Average Snow Days Per Month:
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The city’s annual average snowfall is only about five days, with snow blankets barely reaching an inch thick and usually dissipating within a day. On some occasions, you’d probably experience little or no snow at all, even during winter in Seattle.
When blizzards hit the city, however, snow could rise a few inches off the ground, and Seattle experienced more than one blizzard within one winter season in the past. On average, heavy snow hits Seattle every five years or so.
How Often Does It Snow in Seattle?
Not often. Winter in Seattle occurs from December to February and has temperatures that seldom go below freezing (lowest temperature average of 35.1 degrees Fahrenheit). Although, you’d probably experience a lot of rain (84 days annual average), averaging from 3.9 to 5.4 inches of rainfall across the winter months.
The city is relatively north, so you may wonder why Seattle does not always get snow. Snow needs cold air and rain, and the two don’t always come together in Seattle except in winter.
Blizzards (which carry snow) occur when warm winds from a region collide with the Arctic Express’ frigid air. What happens during the no-snow months in Seattle is that either air temperature ‘pushes’ the other aside, resulting in freezing temperatures without rain or lots of rain with mild temperatures.
What Is the Coldest Month in Seattle?
December is the coldest month in Seattle. Below are the average temperature lows across the city’s winter months (degrees Fahrenheit):
December is also the wettest month in Seattle, averaging nearly nine days annually with 0.8 inches of rainfall. The month also has the shortest days (annual average of 8 daylight hours) and the least sunshine (yearly average of 4 hours).
What Parts of Seattle Get Snow?
Snow in Seattle is rare, but some of the highest locations in the city, such as Queen Anne and Beacon Hill, would most likely get snow.
1. Queen Anne Hill
Situated about 500 feet above sea level, the hilltop may get some snow dusting but not the lower areas surrounding the hill. When snow does land on the ground, though, most businesses close.
Nonetheless, Queen Anne Hill is highly favored by people who enjoy snowboarding, tobogganing, and skiing. If you have an artistic inclination, join a group of Seattleites in making snow sculptures or visit some snow art exhibits in the city.
2. First Hill
Because of the clinics and hospitals atop the hill, First Hill is fondly called ‘Pill Hill’ and is considered the first neighborhood in Seattle. Along its residential streets is a combination of historical brick apartments and high-rise condominiums.
Mt. Rainier is a favorite sledding destination in First Hill.
3. Beacon Hill
Since it is mainly a residential neighborhood, some people say it has a ‘more relaxed’ ambiance than other hills like Queen Anne or Capitol.
In terms of recreation, if snow is but a drizzle, there’s the Beacon Food Forest, where you could plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers. You could also tee off at the 9-hole Jefferson Park Golf Course.
Winter Destinations in Seattle
If Washington cities are among your choices in winter destinations, you’re probably curious about when it snows in Seattle. Snow might not always come with winter, but Seattle has destination spots that draw locals and tourists.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
A museum in Seattle Center dedicated to the famous artist Dale Chihuly offers a wide selection of decorative art forms primarily made of glass. The museum has three main parts: the Galleries with specific themes, a Glasshouse that changes your visual perception relative to the time of the day, and the Garden where horticulture blends with glass art.
Renegade Craft Fair
Go unconventional and do your shopping at artisan stores of handmade goods at the Renegade Craft Fair. What’s more, you’d avoid the winter shopping rush at regular malls with long queues and big crowds.
Wings Over Washington
If you’re hearing this attraction for the first time, you’re missing a lot. Wings Over Washington is Seattle’s ‘flying theater’ where you’d get a lifelike aerial experience as you immerse yourself in scenic landmarks via 5k Cameras and Mushroom VR. Immortalize your memories with a digicam (view on Amazon). With its 14.2 MP super high-speed AF CMOS Sensor, you could even view live images in slow motion.
Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
Indulge your sweet tooth after watching how a cocoa bean transforms into a delectable chocolate bar at the Fremont factory of one of Seattle’s favorite chocolatiers.
A magnificent skyline attraction in Seattle, a visit to the Space Needle would give you a panoramic view of the city’s downtown as well as the snow-capped tips of Mount Rainier and Olympic Mountain.
Winter Activities in Seattle
That there is minimal snow in Seattle makes winter activities in the city doubly exciting. Whatever your passion is, you’d find more than one indulgence up your alley during Seattle’s winter season.
In less than an hour, east of Seattle is Snoqualmie Pass, where you could snowboard and ski, capped by a hot cup of chocolate. Off Southeast in a little over 2 hours is Crystal Mountain. Whichever site you choose, it’s sure to be a fun-filled winter experience.
Start with an Underground Tour to know how Seattle’s old city looked like back then. After visiting history, go contemporary and see the Boeing Factory, one of the big-name companies in Seattle. Soothe your wandering spirit with either a sip of every coffee cup in a Coffee Tour or choose among microbreweries’ sample selection of local beer via a Brewery Tour.
A day at Mount Rainier National Park wouldn’t be enough to enjoy the park’s wilderness. You could even camp in one of its three drive-in campgrounds to rest before continuing your exploration.
Achieve your inner balance amidst the kaleidoscopic glass panels of the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Then fire your spirit again at the Space Needle, which is within the vicinity of the glass garden.
Go two hours northeast of Seattle, and you’d explore the snowy terrains of Stevens Pass. There are lots of easy and flat trails if you’re a beginner. Just don’t forget to pack snowshoes (view in Amazon). Available in 22 and 28 inches, these are an excellent, lightweight pair engineered to distribute your weight evenly.
What’s a winter getaway if you don’t pick up your skates and hit the skating rink? Visit the City of Bellevue and practice your perfect eight swirls. The outdoor skate rink has free lessons every Tuesday and Thursday right after Thanksgiving for first-time skaters until the middle of January.
Conclusion: Does It Snow in Seattle?
While winters in Seattle mostly lack thick blankets of pristine snow, the city offers a variety of attractions and exciting activities that, at the end of your stay, you’d be clamoring for more. Be your interest lean toward indoor fun like glass gardens and historical museums or inviting outdoor explorations like sliding down snowy mountain slopes, Seattle will always be a city worth visiting during wintertime.