West Seattle, Washington
11:42 AM: Seattle City Light is investigating a power outage that started about 15 minutes ago in Delridge – the map shows two spots, one on SW Holden just west of Delridge, with most of the 140+ affected customers in what appears to be the West Ridge Park complex at Delridge/Kenyon. No word yet how it started; the current restoration estimate is mid-afternoon.
12:07 PM: Ken points out in a comment that a crash appears to be to blame – the SFD 911 log does show a “wires down” call a short time earlier in the 2200 block of SW Holden – and also says the Westhaven Apartments are affected.
2:42 PM: Just checked; outage continues, and restoration is now projected for after 7 pm.
10:27 PM: Debbie reports in comments that power was restored about half an hour ago. The SCL map still shows a few customers out.
Weekend before last, more than 100 homes in The Arroyos and South Arbor Heights lost power. The unrelated but concurrent Trader Joe’s outage overshadowed it in our headlines, but it’s not the first time an equipment problem took out the power for southwesternmost West Seattle, and so Seattle City Light is having a community meeting Thursday to answer questions and explain “future electrical infrastructure upgrades” in that area. Bring your questions/concerns to the meeting at 6:30 pm Thursday (December 14th) at Westside School (10404 34th SW; WSB sponsor).
Thanks for the tip: We just checked with Seattle Public Utilities about a reported water break in Arbor Heights. SPU says a 4-inch main broke and water was welling up in the 11400 block of 35th SW. They “partially closed a valve to reduce the flow” while making repairs; water should be returning to the 58 homes and four hydrants that were temporarily affected.
P.S. If you have water problems, such as no service or discoloration, 206-386-1800 is the SPU hotline. And thanks for then letting us know too, so we can check on the big picture of what’s going on.
The West Seattle Trader Joe’s store was expected to reopen this morning after its four-day power outage ended last night, and indeed, multiple WSB readers report, it did. The outage started very early Saturday after a suspected DUI driver rolled his car into the transformer and other equipment on the north side of the store at 4545 Fauntleroy Way SW; City Light told WSB that its part of the repairs were completed by Saturday night but other equipment belonging to the store had to be fixed before they could reconnect, and that took until last night. (While any prolonged closure of a business would be news, this store holds a special place in West Seattle lore due to the many years community members clamored for it, a long wait that finally ended when the conversion of a former car-sales business was completed with the store’s opening in April 2012.)
11:12 AM: Just in case you were wondering, West Seattle Trader Joe’s (4545 Fauntleroy Way SW) remains closed, without power for a fourth day since a suspected drunk driver rolled his car and damaged electrical equipment on the west side of the building. Seattle City Light told us on Monday that their crew repaired their part of the equipment by Saturday evening, and they’re ready to reconnect when the company finishes fixing equipment that it owns. We haven’t yet reached a company spokesperson to get more on that.
TUESDAY EVENING: The power is back on and the anonymous-but-knowledgeable commenter who has been providing updates says the store’s expected to reopen Wednesday morning.
(5:41 AM UPDATE: 35th now reopened both ways)
This is big water. On 35th south of Avalon. pic.twitter.com/iUvQG5VIx9
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
6:18 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s been messaging us about what they’re describing as gushing water on the road at 35th/Avalon on this rainless night. We are on the way over to find out more.
6:34 PM: This is BIG water gushing from southbound 35th just south of Avalon. SFD is here and closing 35th between Avalon and Alaska. Avoid the area.
6:44 PM: Firefighters have also closed the sidewalks to keep people far away – they’re worried this could lead to a big sinkhole in the street. SPU has arrived. We have a message out to find out what more they know. We also hear there’s low water pressure at some residences nearby.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
7:05 PM: This is going to go on a while. Full complement of utilities here now – Puget Sound Energy (there’s been concern about natural-gas odor around the KFC), Seattle City Light, as well as SPU. Again, 35th is blocked off between Alaska and Avalon, but before that happened, here’s video from @jetreset showing how it looked when a C Line bus went through the water (which is right by the southbound stop on 35th):
Video of the flooding from the C line pic.twitter.com/mc4QyMlY5o
— Demon Snethen (@JetReset) December 5, 2017
7:23 PM: Just talked with SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan. He says what broke is a 4-inch “service line” that belongs to the adjacent apartment building (which would be Aura) – “it’s not city infrastructure.”
The building is only a year old.
Ryan added, “We have the water main shut down between Avalon and Manning while crews look for the water shutoff valve.” Repairs might not be complete before midnight, he says.
7:43 PM: Buses have been rerouted for a while since the road remains closed (and the water’s still bubbling up on the southbound side), but here’s the official Metro reroute alert just texted/tweeted:
Transit Alert – Buses rerouted off of 35 Av SW/SW Avalon Way. Use the stops on Avalon Wy east of 35 Av or on 35 Av south of SW Alaska St.
— King County Metro🚌 (@kcmetrobus) December 5, 2017
7:55 PM: The water’s not off yet, but the volume is down. Kevin tells us water service is off to the south of here, too, near 36th/Edmunds.
8:14 PM: Water’s down to a trickle.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
SFD has left, but SPD is still at the scene to keep the road closure enforced. We’ve left for a while but will keep checking on the status of the road – and we’ll start our morning traffic coverage earlier than usual with word on whether that section of road is open or not.
10:07 PM: Street’s still closed, and heavy equipment’s now at work digging:
Work still under way at water-break site, 35th SW still blocked south of Avalon. pic.twitter.com/bb1L7RYKmb
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
SDOT quotes SPD via Twitter as saying the closure will continue “until tomorrow morning.” No police left at the scene for us to ask in person – just the work crew. We’ll check the scene again in the very early hours.
4:59 AM: Back at the scene. 35th is still closed south of Avalon. Crews still at work.
5:16 AM: Northbound traffic is now being allowed through the area. Southbound still blocked by crews.
5:41 AM: They’ve just removed the barricades on the southbound side and traffic is now going both ways.
The West Seattle Trader Joe’s is still closed right now, third day since a power outage caused by a flipped-car crash early Saturday, as first reported here that morning. We have new information from Seattle City Light, after a conversation with spokesperson Scott Thomsen. He explains that the crash damaged not only SCL’s “pad-mounted transformer” – in the spot shown in our photo above, on the northeast corner of 39th SW and Fauntleroy Way – but also “some equipment that belongs to the customer” (Trader Joe’s). Thomsen says SCL completed its work, including replacing the transformer, by 7 pm Saturday. The delay since then is because the electrician working on TJ’s equipment has not yet finished fixing it; once they have, Thomsen says, they are ready to reconnect the power. Side note, answering some questions that had come up in the comment discussion: The damaged transformer did NOT contain PCBs: “The transformer that was hit was one of our new ones, containing certified FR3 vegetable oil. No PCBs. We cleaned up the oil that did leak.” We also sent an inquiry to Trader Joe’s this morning and have not yet heard back; if and when we do, we’ll add the information to this story. Meantime, SPD was investigating the crash as a possible case of DUI; Angela caught the crash aftermath on video:
The driver (who SPD says is a 26-year-old man) was taken to the hospital by private ambulance, which indicates his injuries weren’t major.
Thanks for the messages about the power outage in the south Arbor Heights/Arroyos area; Comcast is reported to be out, too. Seattle City Light‘s map shows the outage as an extension of the one that started yesterday, though now it’s listed as 127 customers, about 30 more than when last we checked Sunday night. If you’re out and not shown on the map, be sure to let City Light know (206-684-3000).
Two power outages making news today:
TRADER JOE’S STILL CLOSED: It’s now going on 36 hours since Trader Joe’s in The Triangle lost power after a rollover crash involving an allegedly DUI driver. We first reported the closure Saturday morning, hours after noting the 2 am crash. No official word on what’s taking so long – Seattle City Light and environmental-services crews were visible at the site yesterday but not so far today. The restoration estimate is now Monday evening.
Meantime, in the southwesternmost end of West Seattle:
96 OUT IN/NEAR ARROYOS: Just before 9 am, according to the City Light outage map, 96 homes lost power in the Arroyos area – see the screengrab above. The current restoration estimate is 7 pm, but the cause is not yet listed.
8:14 PM: Both outages continue. The Arroyos outage is attributed now to “equipment failure.” For Trader Joe’s, one source says it’s expected to be closed again tomorrow, awaiting a part. We’ll be following up with the company and the utility in the morning.
9:11 AM: Thanks to everyone who’s texted us about this, reporting that West Seattle Trader Joe’s is closed right now because of a power outage caused by the flipped-car crash we reported early this morning. Angela, whose photo is in our original report, also sent this video:
One person went to the hospital via private ambulance, indicating their injuries were not life-threatening. Meantime, the City Light map says they’re hoping for restoration around 10:30 am – as with all outages, could be sooner, could be later.
9:22 AM: We just went over to the store to find out more. Lots of crews working out front on repairs. A Trader Joe’s staffer tells us they don’t know how long it’ll take – they’ve been warned it could be several hours.
12:05 PM: Still out, per the SCL map and per driving by. No restoration estimate now. Meantime, as noted in comments, SPD classified the crash as a suspected case of DUI.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTE: The SCL outage map shows the power still out. We hope to get over there around 9:30 to verify that the closure is continuing.
10:17 AM: We haven’t made it there yet but multiple reader messages confirm the closure continues.
NOTE: Our Sunday followup is here.
Thanks to the person who texted with a report of brown water in their neighborhood southwest of The Junction, near 51st and Edmunds – Seattle Public Utilities told them there’s hydrant testing in the area. Any time you experience discolored water, here’s the number to use to let SPU know: 206-386-1800. (They have some additional advice on this page.)
8:36 AM: Thanks for the tips – first we got a text about a “boom” in Gatewood, then Matt e-mailed about a transformer/fuse blowing near California/Myrtle, and now the Seattle City Light outage map shows 49 customers out in that area. Estimated restoration is after noon, but remember that those are just “guesstimates” and it could be sooner (as was the case with the most recent West Seattle outage of note) or later.
1:26 PM: The original estimated restoration time has now come and gone, and there’s a new one, 3:43 pm. The map also now attributes the outage to “tree.”
2:28 PM: And the outage has ended, sometime in the past hour, after 5+ hours.
FIRST REPORT, 8:50 PM: It’s not yet on the City Light map, but there’s a power outage in eastern West Seattle. We’ve heard from Highland Park and High Point so far. More info to come.
8:52 PM: In the time it took us to type that, the map updated – more than 4,100 customers out.
8:57 PM: No word yet on the cause. Even if you didn’t lose power, you might have noticed a flicker about the time the outage started at 8:46 pm – we did, here on the Upper Fauntleroy/Gatewood line. (And thanks to everyone whose texts immediately afterward tipped us to the outage!)
9:06 PM: As you can see on the map (screengrab above), a pocket of South Park is out too. In case this lasts a while, City Light has some helpful advice toward the end of this page.
9:11 PM: The map now has a restoration guesstimate of 1:33 am – we call it that because even the utility acknowledges it’s something of a guess. Could be sooner, could be later.
9:31 PM: If you are out or have to go out, remember that when a stoplight’s out, it’s an all-way stop. For one, as mentioned by Harvey on Twitter, Delridge/Henderson is out.
9:35 PM: Some High Point residents report via comments and texts that they’re back on. Anywhere else?
9:40 PM: The map has updated, now showing 2,700+ customers still out, so the restoration reduced the original outage by about a third. (Adding the new map above.)
9:48 PM: The cause is now described on the map as “equipment failure.”
9:54 PM: More report via comments and texts that the power’s back. And SCL elaborates on the cause via Twitter, “Breaker tripped at substation.”
9:57 PM: Map shows that everyone’s back on, and SCL confirms. If yours is NOT, be sure to call 206-684-3000 and be sure they know.
The photo is from Ben, whose home is among the dozen-plus in West Seattle that have yet to get power back after losing it during the Monday afternoon/evening windstorm. Ben tells WSB, “Going on our 3rd day without power! 47th and Hanford. Okay, it was fun for awhile, a little adventure for the kids. But we’re ready for power now! :) What with the home office and all …” The Seattle City Light map shows Ben’s neighborhood as the northernmost, and largest, remaining outage pocket (5 customers):
Citywide, as of right now, SCL still has 39 outages totaling 110 customers. And the utility is requesting that those still out be sure to re-report the outages.
Seattle City Light still has 13,000 customers without power right now – and has warned that since most of the remaining outages are small, progress will be slower. And in fact, most of the West Seattle markers on the screengrab of the SCL outage map shown above represent one-customer outages – with a few exceptions: 19 customers in the Seola Beach area, 15 each near 34th/Morgan and at 39th/Dakota, and 14 each near 21st/Roxbury and 36th/Webster. If you are still out but NOT shown on the map, you’ll want to check in to be sure SCL knows that – 206-684-3000.
Leaves, branches, whatever you’re cleaning up so it can be picked up, Seattle Public Utilities says you can set out extra bags/containers of yard waste throughout November … free, with a few rules that you can see here. Main goal: Keeping storm drains clear of leaves, to minimize flooding risk during heavy rain.
The city’s out with a progress report on its efforts to handle discarded needles/syringes, which is a two-part program that includes dropboxes placed earlier this year in locations including West Seattle’s Roxhill Park and Westcrest Park, as well as cleanups in response to complaints. First, Seattle Public Utilities shared this map of where it’s received the most requests/complaints:
This news release from SPU explains not just the stats but also that they’re surveying people in multiple ways to decide how to improve the program:
In its first 15 months of operation, Seattle Public Utility’s pioneering Sharps Collection Pilot Program has collected and safely disposed of 32,012 hypodermic syringes, improving both the safety and cleanliness of the city’s neighborhoods.
Since February, people disposed of 26,647 syringes in nine SPU sharps disposal boxes around Seattle. (See attached map.) Another 5,365 needles have been removed from public property since the program began, in August 2016, in response to 1,113 complaints. Complaints were filed online, with the City’s Find It, Fix It app, or phoned in to 206-684-7587.
It is believed Seattle is the first U.S. city to combine syringe complaint response and disposal boxes as a standalone sharps program.
Today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin includes official notice of the city’s land-use-permit application for the project. That opens a comment period through November 6th – here’s how to comment.
If you have questions about the project, or just want to see/hear more about it, you’ll want to be at Wednesday night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting – 7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden) – because SPU is on the agenda with a presentation about it.
9:55 PM: Thanks to those who just messaged to let us know about a power outage on Charlestown Hill. The Seattle City Light map shows 43 customers out as of just after 9 pm, no cause yet, restoration estimated by 3 am (but remember, it might be sooner … or later). Let us know if you see an SCL truck in the area – that’s usually the main clue about the outage’s origin.
10:07 PM: The SCL map has updated to blame this outage on unspecified “equipment failure.”
5:52 AM: Still out, the map says, now estimating restoration is still a few hours away.
12:01 PM: The power is finally back after 14+ hours. We asked City Light’s Scott Thomsen about the cause and why it took so long to fix. His reply:
The outage you asked about was caused by the failure of a piece of equipment called a limiter. A limiter limits the amount of current flow to protect equipment from power surges.
When it blew, the surge that was then allowed damaged an underground cable, which had to be repaired. Finding the exact damage spot on an underground cable can be challenging, sometimes involving digging up different spots to check its condition. This one did take a long time to find the damage and repair it.
First report from last night’s quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting is one of interest no matter what neighborhood you’re in: It’s the first community-council briefing we’ve seen in this area since Seattle City Light started switching over to automated meters. The map above shows which parts of West Seattle are scheduled for installation next year – according to the online schedule, the utility expects to have all installations citywide due by the end of 2018.
SCL’s Scott Thomsen spoke to MoCA last night, saying that the new meters will be uploading your power-use information to SCL six times a day. They’re replacing meters that are in some cases older than half a century. He described the attributes as including “first off, you’re going to get more accurate billing.” No more “estimated reads” when they can’t get a meter reading to your house, for whatever reason, leading to an inaccurate bill and maybe a big catch-up bill later. Then, “on a day like today with a storm coming in,” instead of reporting a power outage, “the meter will tell us that you are out,” and that will get crews on the road quicker to fix them. Also: “What we’re talking about is a change in our relationship with you, our customers, to put more power in your hands to control energy costs,” since you’ll also have access to details of how much you’re using.
Questions included whether the existing meter’s base will accommodate the new meter; Thomsen says yes, but if something goes wrong while they are installing it, or they need to fix something with the base, they will take the position that it’s their responsibility, though technically property owners are accountable for providing the base that holds the meter.
How will you know exactly when you’re due for installation? Thomsen says you’ll get three notifications before they come to install – a letter, a postcard, an automated phone call, starting weeks ahead of time. The installer will come knock on your door so that if you’re home working on something, you’ll have an opportunity to save it before the one-minute power outage that’ll be required for the switch over. You don’t have to be home for the installation. Other questions? Check out SCL’s page for the automated-meter project.
Though the weather’s been relatively calm otherwise, Friday’s breeziness might have reminded you that windstorm season is getting closer. And with – sometimes without – wind, comes power trouble. That’s why Seattle City Light invited media crews to its SODO yard (the one next to the West Seattle Bridge on 4th Avenue South) today. The message was twofold: City Light is working to upgrade technology to shorten outages – and urges you to be ready for them. Here’s spokesperson Scott Thomsen:
The briefing included an explanation of what some describe as “transformer explosions” – they are actually fuses that blow protectively:
When a tree falls into power lines, or heavy ice and snow weigh down branches that then cross two or more power lines, it creates a short circuit. The resulting power surge that could damage equipment. Utilities have circuit breakers and fuses in place to protect equipment, such as the transformers that reduce the voltage of electricity from the distribution grid to the service level voltage for your home or business. Those breakers open and fuses blow to isolate damage and protect other equipment, which reduces the likelihood of prolonged power outages for entire neighborhoods.
Once power is out, crews have to both fix the problem and route power around it. New technology is being tested that will automatically handle the latter. In the meantime, SCL continues to take preventive measures such as tree-trimming and vegetation-clearing along 600 miles of power lines every year.
Though SCL is also starting to install automated meters that will give the system a better idea of who’s out and where, they still ask you to call when the power goes out – 206-684-3000 – keep that number in your phone. And check out these preparedness checklists – before the weather gets into the potential-outage zone.
4:27 PM: Thanks to the texter who just mentioned that some residents along Harbor and Alki Avenues in the Duwamish Head area have been without power since midday. The Seattle City Light map says 91 customers – no businesses in that area, so the number would all be residences – are out, and currently estimates restoration by early evening. “Equipment failure” is blamed.
6:19 PM: City Light map says everyone’s back on. (If you’re NOT – be sure to call SCL at 206-684-3000 to be sure they know!)
ADDED MONDAY MIDDAY: While at an unrelated City Light media event today, we asked spokesperson Scott Thomsen for further info about this outage’s cause. He tells us, “It was caused by a failed lightning arrester.” (Don’t know what that is? Here’s an explanation.)
7:54 AM: Thanks for the text – the traffic signal at 35th and Alaska is out. It’s because of a planned power outage in the area, which Kevin had messaged us about minutes earlier. The Seattle City Light map says 134 homes/businesses in the area are without power for “planned work” and expect they’ll have power restored by about 10:30 am. While the signal’s out, meantime, remember that it’s an all-way stop.
11:04 AM: Kevin’s power was back on as of an hour ago but the map still shows the 134-customer outage. We’re headed over to check on the signal.
12:10 PM It’s working.