Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Here come the plows

This welcome sight drove out of the (newly clean) Wells Fargo parking lot this afternoon:

Snow Plow

Slowly but surely life is coming back to normal.

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Good news for Catholics

Or maybe it’s bad news if you’re a Mercer Island Catholic trying to think of an excuse to get out of your one visit to church this year.  The snowplows are here, grading the parking lot of St. Monica’s:

Snow plow at St. Monica's Church

Quite a few other plows around too: I saw somebody snowblowing up 86 and many other places.   Today’s warm temperatures and no precipitation are helping make the streets a little more passable, just in time for Christmas.

No gas, lots of ice

We are socked in with ice and snow everywhere, making it hard to get around.  Apparently even the delivery trucks are stuck: there’s no gas now at the Shell station.

No Gas

(See, they took down the price sign).

The roads and parking lots downtown are covered with dangerous ice.  Look at the Post Office:

Mercer Island Post Office is icy

and the North End QFC lot:

North QFC

Is there any relief in sight?  Who knows?  But at least the snow plows are here

Snow plow

(See on Island Crest on Tuesday morning)

See more snow photos of Mercer Island on FlickR

Also see a steady stream of new MI Youtube videos, including this 3-min one showing how deep the snow is:

Mercer Island Emergency Video

Joy Johnston, City Communications Coordinator, just created a new Youtube channel and uploaded the first video:

I thought it was cute that the “owner” of the Youtube channel is listed as “age 48”.  The City, of course, was incorporated on July 5th, 1960..

Snow and Ice

Newspapers shout bad snow day

Island roads have been terrible since the Big Snow hit on Thursday leaving many of us stuck in our homes, afraid to take our cars up and down slippery hills.

When I finally ventured out on Friday afternoon, I found unplowed, icy roads everywhere.  Just look at the ABS indicator on my dashboard, telling me that I’m losing traction as I drive up 40th from Island Crest Way.

Danger!  car is slipping

The City of Mercer Island is “prepared with sanders and snow plows to work around the clock if necessary”, according to the Mercer Island Winter Weather Update on the city website, which also includes a map of the snow and ice routes.  But I saw precious little plowing or sanding yet during my drive.  In fact, my Prius was completely unable to make it up the Merrimount Drive hill, in spite of two attempts.

Some streets, like 24th ave, were completely blocked off by city-erected barricades

Don't go up 24th.

Saturday morning looks to be a little better, but maybe not for long.  Another big storm is scheduled to hit tonight.

Click here to see a map of photos taken during my drive around the island.

Mercer Island’s most accurate weather forecaster

Surrounded by Water took a walk to see how the island is coping with all this snow today, but some of us are wondering when it will let up.  Weather forecasts are so unreliable we think it’s almost a waste of time to pay attention to weather reports.  Don’t the forecasters get graded on accuracy?

Yes they do and evaluation service Forecastadvisor says the best weather source is MyForecast, with 80.61% overall accuracy last year.  Weather Channel is so close that you might as well assume they’re the leader, since you’ve probably heard of them more.

But on days like yesterday, when the forecast assumed tons of snow that never materialized, we really care about the accuracy of precipitation forecasts, and there Accuweather is tops.

ForecastAdvisor summary of Mercer Island forecasts

Of course, some days you can just look at the weather and judge for yourself:

iTaxes in Washington

From CNet:

Did you know that our state is one of 17 states that tax music downloads.

Washington state law, for instance, does not explicitly permit the taxation of digital downloads, but the state taxes them anyway. Previously, the Washington Department of Revenue told CNET that it taxes downloads on the basis that they fall under the definition of computer software, which is taxable.

"As these technologies meet, there is this question of what is digital goods and what is software," said Drew Shirk, a legislative policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Revenue.

To answer those questions, the state legislature commissioned a committee, chaired by State Representative Ross Hunter, to provide a report to the legislature by the end of the year "to define where technology is today and how it should be taxed," Shirk said.

I wonder if illegal downloads are taxed too?