Along Dumar Way, a busy connector between two major eastern West Seattle arterials (Delridge Way and 16th SW), crews from Seattle City Light contractor Kemp West have been out trimming tall, fast-growing cottonwood, alder, and maple trees to get their branches away from power lines – in hopes of reducing the chances that even a minor storm will push branches into the nearby power lines and cause outages. We met with City Light’s Scott Thomsen at the site this afternoon to talk about storm readiness – not just for utilities, but for all of us. As we talked, the trimming crew continued its work:
The ongoing tree-trimming program, Thomsen says, has had a noticeable reduction on the number of outages happening when those smaller storms hit. But in an area with so many trees, there’s really no way to eliminate the possibility of outages in case of a big storm – so you need to be ready. And this year, weather analysts including Cliff Mass say, we may have a “neutral” year instead of El Niño or La Niña, and those years have a higher likelihood of BIG storms. So don’t wait till there’s a forecast of imminent storminess. Be ready with batteries, backup food/water supplies, etc. Check out this checklist from the regional Take Winter By Storm campaign – you’ll hear even more from them on Monday, when they’re briefing the regional media for an official launch.
P.S. A frequent question about the tree-trimming is why the trees tend to look rather, well, stark when the crews are done. Thomsen reminds us that the cutting is done in a manner that not only achieves the goal – get out of the power lines – but also keeps the tree healthy, and the “rectangular” cuts you often see meet that goal. It’s all done by tree crews licensed to work near power lines, and under the supervision of a certified arborist. This year alone, they’ve trimmed along 625 miles in the city.