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8.11.11: "Your Foul-Weather Friend"

Space Needle History: Thursday at the Needle

Knute Berger, Writer-in-Residence

Summer is high season at the Space Needle, and when the sun comes out, like today, visitors come up for the view. But what about the rest of the year?

The Needle has encountered various forms of inclement weather, from major windstorms to deep freezes and steady rains. On Dec. 30, 1969, for example, the Needle closed because it's water pipes froze when the mercury dropped to 10-degrees, setting a record.

In early February of the same year, Needle "window washers" had to chisel large icicles from the roof outside the revolving restaurant. One employee hammered the icicles free while another caught them in a salmon net. Snow on the Needle's roof had melted, then re-froze, and a decision was made to salt the roof drains to keep it from happening again, mostly for the protection of folks down below. But an icicle bed-decked Needle must have made a pretty sight.

In 1974, an ad promoted the Needle calling it your "Foul Weather Friend."

"Let it rain. And blow. The Space Needle is known for its spectacular clear-weather views. It also offers foul-weather visitors a choice of highs." (Now there's a 70's reference.)

The ad continues:

"Puget Sound winter fogs are quietly eerie from the 600-feet, enclosed heated observation area. Now you see the ground, now you don't....

"And rain. Well The weather man says that Seattle rains usually fall from cloud ceilings higher than the Needle--so the view of glistening streets and buildings isn't hampered. It's enhanced, particularly at night."

"Next time you and your family (or visitors) are planning a trip to the Needle, look out at the weather--and hope that it's bad."

Remember that in January.

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