West Seattle power outage: Cable failure cuts electricity to 3,200 homes, businesses

February 20, 2013 at 1:59 am | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 72 Comments

(Added 2:34 am: Screengrab from City Light map, at outage’s peak)
1:59 AM: Power went out a few minutes ago here at WSB HQ on the Upper Fauntleroy/Gatewood line. So far we have reports from further north in Gatewood and one in High Point. Nothing on the City Light map just yet (we’re calling). Anyone else?

2:07 AM UPDATE: Pending a drive around to check boundaries, so far via WSB, Facebook, and Twitter reports, Gatewood/Fauntleroy/High Point/Morgan Junction/Seaview are affected. We’ve looked south from outside the house and points south such as Arbor Heights look OK.

2:11 AM UPDATE: Just checked the City Light recording again – they say more than 3,100 homes and businesses are out of power. Estimated restoration time, which is always a guesstimate this early on: 8 am.

2:28 AM UPDATE: It’s on the City Light map now, and the total affected is past 3,200 homes/businesses (aka “customers”). The cause is listed as “investigating.” If you’re seeing a power crew in your area, let us know – the sudden sighting of repair work somewhere may be the first hint of what caused this.

3:06 AM UPDATE: High Point’ers say theirs is back. City Light has sent its first news release but there’s nothing in it we haven’t already reported – no word on the cause, still.

3:13 AM UPDATE: Lots of new information as we correspond with SCL’s John Gustafson – a thousand people have their power back; the cause has been determined as “failed main stem underground cable,” and he adds, “We should continue to see more customers restored in next half hour or so.”

3:20 AM UPDATE: We’re back after about an hour and a half. Thanks again for all the reports – text (206-293-6302 any time with breaking news), e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – that gave us all an idea on the boundaries long before SCL’s map came online.

3:47 AM UPDATE: Still more than 700 out, according to the City Light map.

POSTSCRIPT: All power was restored by 4:27 am, says SCL – 2 1/2 hours for the last ones to get service back. (Just for the record, though their news release cites a 2:07 am start, since we were in the outage zone, we can verify it was actually around 1:50 am; as the timestamp shows, we launched this coverage around 1:59.)

72 Comments

  1. Out at 44th and Juneau.

    Comment by B — 1:59 am February 20, 2013 #

  2. I’m out at 35th and Holden.

    Comment by Amy — 2:00 am February 20, 2013 #

  3. Out here in High Point.

    Comment by breezy — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  4. Lincoln park area. We’re out as well. Street lights on Fauntleroy are on though

    Comment by jason — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  5. Yup it’s out in high point.

    Comment by Tyler — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  6. Out, 39th and Willow

    Comment by Joe — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  7. Out in Morgan Junction…

    Comment by Machel — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  8. Yep here on Southern St

    Comment by Patrice — 2:01 am February 20, 2013 #

  9. Outage at Morgan junction

    Comment by Wayne — 2:02 am February 20, 2013 #

  10. It tried to come back on twice right after it went out.

    Comment by Tyler — 2:03 am February 20, 2013 #

  11. Out at 32nd/juneau.

    Comment by TMQ — 2:03 am February 20, 2013 #

  12. It’s out on 39th and othello

    Comment by casey — 2:03 am February 20, 2013 #

  13. It’s out on 39th and othello.

    Comment by casey — 2:03 am February 20, 2013 #

  14. The power is out on the 4100 block of SW Rose and I’ve called Seattle City Light.

    Comment by Dave — 2:03 am February 20, 2013 #

  15. Out here at High Point.

    Comment by another resident — 2:04 am February 20, 2013 #

  16. Out across from Lincoln Park, near 76 gas station

    Comment by NBC — 2:04 am February 20, 2013 #

  17. Out on Orchard St between California and 35th

    Comment by vger — 2:04 am February 20, 2013 #

  18. Seattle city light does NOT have this shown on their outage map currently (Just checked a few min after reporting).

    Comment by vger — 2:05 am February 20, 2013 #

  19. Between Lowman Beach and Lincoln Park on Beach Drive.

    Comment by erin — 2:05 am February 20, 2013 #

  20. On SW Othello out everywhere as far as I can see, even Bainbridge Is. However, SW Webster to the south is still up…

    Comment by David Leuckel — 2:06 am February 20, 2013 #

  21. Power is on here at 35th and Trenton! (on the East side of the street- the West side of 35th is out).

    Comment by valvashon — 2:07 am February 20, 2013 #

  22. That seems large for a “regular” outage! I can see the lights operating at Fauntleroy/Calif, but up the hill from there we’re out… Hmmm

    Comment by WSSue — 2:07 am February 20, 2013 #

  23. The kenney is running its generators . 47th and othello still out .

    Comment by Hiya — 2:09 am February 20, 2013 #

  24. I just added info from recording, 3,100+ homes, businesses estimated for starters.

    Comment by WSB — 2:13 am February 20, 2013 #

  25. Out on Elmgrove and 39th. The whole street is dark. Any update from the city?

    Comment by Guillaume Wiatr — 2:13 am February 20, 2013 #

  26. Still no recorded update from SCL and not on outage map.

    Comment by Robin — 2:15 am February 20, 2013 #

  27. Yes, there is a recorded message from SCL if you call the “outage hotline.” That’s where I got the 3,100+ customers and 8 am restoration projection (again, those are usually way off).

    Comment by WSB — 2:19 am February 20, 2013 #

  28. Lincoln park 46th ave

    Comment by Coreen — 2:21 am February 20, 2013 #

  29. Lights on @ California and Graham

    Comment by Jacob — 2:22 am February 20, 2013 #

  30. Wow I hope it’s before 8am… I was in the middle of a business call to europe and I can’t do that without proper internet (3G on the phone won’t cut it). Dang. Well, with that many people out, they are going to have to work quickly…..

    Comment by vger — 2:24 am February 20, 2013 #

  31. Lights still out at 37th & Holden at 2:25 am

    Comment by Jeff — 2:25 am February 20, 2013 #

  32. High Point still dark at 2:28

    Comment by Tyler — 2:28 am February 20, 2013 #

  33. With the lights out its less dangeras
    Here we are now Entertain us ….

    Comment by Jesse — 2:30 am February 20, 2013 #

  34. Kinda peaceful. I like it.

    Comment by Andrew — 2:50 am February 20, 2013 #

  35. Back on, Morgan Junction. California and Holly

    Comment by zach — 2:55 am February 20, 2013 #

  36. It is. Much electronic background noise otherwise, even at this time of night.

    Comment by WSB — 2:55 am February 20, 2013 #

  37. Back on!!

    Comment by B — 2:55 am February 20, 2013 #

  38. Power restored on 39th between Graham and Morgan.

    Comment by James — 2:56 am February 20, 2013 #

  39. Back on at 42nd and Raymond.

    Comment by KC — 2:57 am February 20, 2013 #

  40. Power just turned back on in high point!

    Comment by Christina — 2:57 am February 20, 2013 #

  41. Back on in High Point.

    Comment by Kayzel — 2:58 am February 20, 2013 #

  42. Lights out here on Murray Ave SW around 2:30am

    Comment by Joel — 2:59 am February 20, 2013 #

  43. “Lights on in the bunkhouse” at 42nd and Graham.

    Comment by Mark — 3:07 am February 20, 2013 #

  44. What is it with the outages in this area? No bad weather, high winds etc. and it still goes out here. Argggggh!

    Comment by Mike — 3:11 am February 20, 2013 #

  45. About a third of the original total has power back, says SCL’s on-call media person.

    Comment by WSB — 3:11 am February 20, 2013 #

  46. Just came back on at Fauntleroy & Morgan

    Comment by WSSue — 3:13 am February 20, 2013 #

  47. Power back on Orchard St between 35th and California

    Comment by vger — 3:19 am February 20, 2013 #

  48. Us too! Thanks for all the updates – the reports we had from everyone gave us the boundaries of the outage long before the City Light map came up.

    Comment by WSB — 3:19 am February 20, 2013 #

  49. back up at 35th and Holden.

    Comment by amy — 3:20 am February 20, 2013 #

  50. Still out @ 4300 block of Frontenac Street

    Comment by brian — 3:32 am February 20, 2013 #

  51. We had no loss of power at all at 41st & Juneau, must have got lucky and just missed it.

    Comment by Brontosaurus — 3:56 am February 20, 2013 #

  52. Luckily never lost power at 39th and Barton

    Comment by Bonnie — 6:55 am February 20, 2013 #

  53. This really annoys me. This is the second time in recent months.

    Comment by B — 7:40 am February 20, 2013 #

  54. Why are so many people up in the middle of the night to even notice a short power outage?

    Comment by John Q Lincoln — 8:14 am February 20, 2013 #

  55. Two hours wasn’t short, if you were awake. There are more night owls than you might think (two-thirds of us in this household). And we have a not-insignificant overnight readership even when the power’s NOT out: We routinely get about 1,000 pageviews (three percent of our average daily traffic) overnight, so people are out there. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:14 am February 20, 2013 #

  56. John Q Lincoln, while we weren’t affected by this outage, we always notice power outages as a household member uses a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. When the power goes out, so does the machine, which means waking up gasping for air. Not fun. Also, depending on the weather, electric going out will also turn off the heat/fan/air conditioning, which will wake me up when it gets to an uncomfortable (to me) temperature.

    Comment by Sue — 9:26 am February 20, 2013 #

  57. I am amazed at how many people are awake in the middle of the night. Our power went out but didnt know it until 6 am. Thanks for all your hard work in the middle of the night.

    Comment by Lucy — 9:37 am February 20, 2013 #

  58. Please excuse my ignorance. Hope everyone in the neighborhood is ok.

    Comment by John Q Lincoln — 9:39 am February 20, 2013 #

  59. Same here: CPAP machine. Luckily I have a backup battery to help in such cases. Boy, it’s always so weird to wake up to such a pitch-black house! (I sleep in the basement bedroom too)

    Comment by Jeff — 9:39 am February 20, 2013 #

  60. Three City Light trucks have been working for a while now on SW Frontenac, right on the border of the above-ground/below-ground power switchover. Unfortunately, it’s quite common to see them working down there.

    Comment by khyizang — 9:58 am February 20, 2013 #

  61. Water problems anyone?

    We live near the Kenney and right about when the power went out our water pressure must have surged because a steel-wrapped supply line to our bathroom sink burst open and flooded our house. Since it was the middle of the night it took us a while to wake up, realize what was going on and turn off the supply line. I suspect the city workers must have shut off the water and then turned it back on, perhaps too quickly or too high a pressure. The line that broke was in good shape and only a few years old. We have quite the mess and damage to clean up.

    Comment by Briango — 11:25 am February 20, 2013 #

  62. Wow! I am on California between Raymond and Graham. How did I manage to luck out and NOT lose power last night. :)

    Comment by elisaid — 11:30 am February 20, 2013 #

  63. briango – have you talked to Seattle Public Utilities? If so, what did they say? Water isn’t usually affected during these situations unless you have some kind of electric-powered infrastructure like a pump for some reason …

    Comment by WSB — 12:04 pm February 20, 2013 #

  64. did anyone ever find out what caused the outage. for those of you who wonder what we are doing up at that hour i am often up watchin some late nite tele or reading but last nite i was sleeping like a baby but when the power went out i woke up and sat up in my bed.. haha i think it was the SILENCE that woke me!!! Just sayin

    Comment by cher stefano — 12:12 pm February 20, 2013 #

  65. Yes, it’s in the story – cable failure. There is no “cause” for those, generally, they crack or otherwise fail – there has been a project in south West Seattle and points even further south to try to fix some aging cables without replacing them, by injecting them with silicone.

    Comment by WSB — 12:19 pm February 20, 2013 #

  66. Well what caused the outage a few months ago? Ridiculous. And for those wondering, we were asleep but our home phone beeps when the power goes out and comes back on like it did a few times at the beginning. That’s what woke us. Then after that it was the baby and then the stupid cat… Great night.

    Comment by B — 12:28 pm February 20, 2013 #

  67. Ah thankyou so much for that information. As usual you guys are on top of the news round here. Have a great day and I am happy to have my curiousity satisfied.

    Comment by cher stefano — 12:46 pm February 20, 2013 #

  68. Thankyou was curious and you always seem to get to the bottom of these things. Have a great day.

    Comment by cher stefano — 12:49 pm February 20, 2013 #

  69. I spoke to SPU and they didn’t have any details to share with me, nor did they know if water was affected during the repair. However it would be quite the coincidence for my water supply hose to break at the same time they were working down the block from me on a pump station related issue. They instructed me to fill out a claim form, though I don’t even know if they are liable, and if even if they are, I won’t be holding my breath for any compensation.

    Comment by Briango — 1:26 pm February 20, 2013 #

  70. Interrupted sleep catching up to me now. Coffee break + WSB :) . Alarm system keypad + system’s iPhone app beeped loudly for a bit telling us about the power failure/switch to battery backup. More “fun facts” from my alarm system’s web log and alerts to my iPhone:
    - Power was lost at 1:53AM
    - Power was restored at 3:18AM
    - 15% of customers, using the same alarm system management package, within a 2 mile radius of our house lost power during the same window. We are near Kenyon/41st.

    WSB: Where can we find more detailed info on their program for upgrades and repairs to the cable system?

    Comment by wsn00b — 1:58 pm February 20, 2013 #

  71. Briango, the water supply system is completely separate from the sewage/storm-water system, and the sewage pump station operations nearby could in no way impact the pressure in the neighborhood water mains.
    .
    Sewage pump stations move effluent through the pipes to the treatment facility. Water system pumps move water up into towers, tanks, and reservoirs. From there, the water is gravity fed into the water main systems- the elevation of the towers and tanks provides the water pressure in your home.
    .
    Water pressure surges (water hammer) can occur in plumbing for a variety of reasons. This usually happens when the flow of water in a system (aqueduct, water mains, house plumbing, etc.) suddenly stops. There is a localized pressure surge that can damage pipes & fittings. Plumbing can also be affected by pH issues both internal and external (corrosive cleaning agents).
    .
    I’m sorry that your sink’s plastic supply line failed and damaged your house. As an aside, it is a good practice for everyone to shut off the valve to any plastic water supply lines when going away from the house for any length of time (vacations). Not only does this exercise/cycle the shut off valves, but it prevents plastic & rubber sink, washer, toilet, dishwasher, and ice-maker supply lines from failing while no one is there to catch the problem.

    Comment by ltfd — 3:11 pm February 20, 2013 #

  72. With regard to being up late…Some folks are night owls, Xbox/Gaming etc, I might’ve slept through it if I called it an early night but some of us have to work late to make crazy deadlines driven by even crazier people/companies in these crazy times. Perfect timing for an outage in the middle of a deadline!

    Comment by Mike — 7:17 pm February 20, 2013 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^