‘You are wet, and will always be wet’ and other ways to survive Seattle’s winter

~ Seattle’s winter is coming… are you ready?

We are lucky when we have a few bright, clear (albeit freezing) days during the winter season, but the full force of winter – i.e. greyer, wetter, shorter days – can be kind of a drag, especially for newbies and the homeless.

Here’s a beautifully written exploration of how Seattleites “find light in Seattle’s winter darkness” by Tyrone Beason of The Seattle Times.

Wondering how much it rains in Seattle compared to other cities? (Spoiler alert: it’s less, even though it feels like more.) Here’s a fun two-minute animated explainer by the Times’ Kelly Shea and Moira Macdonald.

But the best advice we’ve seen so far about how to deal with the damp, dark days of winter comes from cartoonist Katie Wheeler of Seattle Weekly: “Become one with the rain,” she writes “You are wet, and will always be wet.”

~ But what if you don’t have a home?

It’s getting cold out there, and reader Michelle Scharlock wrote in yesterday with a very good question. She’d recently seen a homeless man shivering in the streets in the University District, not well dressed for the weather. She got him gloves and food at a nearby gas station, but wanted to do more.

“Do you know if there is a number a person can call to let a shelter know that there is someone out in the freezing temperatures?” Michelle asked us.

There is. If you want to be ready to give info to who’s out in the cold, think about putting these two numbers into your phone’s contacts:

    • 211. That’s the statewide Washington Information Network, which can direct you to all kinds of health and human services, including cold weather shelters. The King County call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the after-hours recording gives other numbers to call no matter where you are in the state.
  • (206) 461-3222. That’s the 24-hour crisis line at the King County Crisis Clinic and a good number to call after hours. It took six minutes to get through when we called at 8:45 p.m. last night, but the dispatcher was ready with an up-to-date list of shelters in the area.

You might also contact Seattle’s Operation Nightwatch.

Other sources:

Solid Ground
DESC Homeless Resources
WSUU Community Resource List
Seattle Credit Union Homeless Resource

Downtown Emergency Services Center, to name just a couple.

Thanks to readers Colin Maloney, Teroya Peso, Al Boss, Scott Berkun, Mollie WoggHector Norza and all who helped us answer Michelle’s question. (Originally published in 2016, but updated 2021.)