West Seattle, Washington
Sidewalk detours and a bus-stop move are ahead next week with repair work at the 53rd Avenue Pump Station on Alki Beach. We just received the official notice from the county Wastewater Treatment Division – you can scroll through it above (or read it here, as a PDF). The county expects work to start next week and last up to a week.
Thanks to David Hutchinson for sharing the video of a river otter (yes, the otters you see here are RIVER otters, not sea otters, which stick to the open ocean). He explains:
The otter was responded to by Seal Sitters earlier this month at Duwamish Head. While not classified as a marine mammal, our theme is “Share the Shore,” so volunteers kept an eye on him while he was using the beach. Thought you might also want to take a look at him going through his normal grooming routine.
Drive carefully on Harbor and Alki Avenues, because river otters do cross the road, as we’ve noted here before – their “dens” are generally inland, but they go out into Puget Sound looking for food.
P.S. Speaking of Seal Sitters, if you’d like to volunteer with the group, sign up ASAP for the next training session – four weeks from tomorrow, March 22nd, but spots are limited and usually fill up in advance. All the info you need is here.
(Photo courtesy SPU)
Update from Seattle Public Utilities: Repair work has finished early for the culvert that carries Pelly Creek and storm drainage to the outfall in the north section of the Lowman Beach Park seawall. The work started last Wednesday, was projected to last up to 10 working days, but was complete by this morning, according to Elaine Leung of SPU. Engineers will continue to survey the seawall weekly for the next few months.
(Photo by Greg, Constellation Park, 2012
Love to tide-walk? Do it as a volunteer beach naturalist this year! Here’s the official call for volunteers:
Volunteer with the Seattle Aquarium at a beach near you!
Why do barnacles stand on their heads? What do sea stars like to eat? How do moon snails lay their eggs? Learn to answer these and other fun questions by volunteering as a Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist this summer. Naturalists receive training in the spring, and then spend three low tide days educating beach visitors about inter-tidal life and beach etiquette at one of eleven Puget Sound beaches, including Constellation Park and Lincoln Beach in West Seattle. Training begins on March 10.
If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (206) 386-4365 or visit www.seattleaquarium.org/beach-naturalist.
Seattle Public Utilities has a new start date for culvert repairs at Lowman Beach Park: Tomorrow (February 4th). As noted here last week, the work originally was expected to start before the end of January. The basics:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will be making repairs to a culvert located at Lowman Beach Park. The culvert conveys Pelly Creek and storm drainage to the outfall west of the tennis court at the park. The culvert at this location is damaged and requires repair to stop erosion of the surrounding soil. The repair work consists of excavating a portion of the damaged pipeline, repairing the broken pipe, and backfilling to surrounding grade.
The project will take about two weeks – 10 working days – with work expected to run 7 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday. Crews will access via the service road on the south side of the park. Meantime, the weekly seawall surveys promised by SPU as part of this already have begun and will continue for about three months.
(WSB photo, taken Saturday)
We noticed those sandbags at Alki Bathhouse over the weekend, apparently awaiting the next round of “king tides,” the very-high high tides that happen a few times in winter. They’re coming up later this week; according to our favorite tide chart (aside from the short-range one on the WSB Weather page, that is), they are:
* 12.8 feet, 5:54 am Wednesday, January 21
* 13.0 feet, 6:31 am Thursday, January 22
* 13.2 feet, 7:10 am Friday, January 23
* 13.2 feet, 7:50 am Saturday, January 24
* 13.0 feet, 8:32 am Sunday, January 25
The Alki/Beach Drive/Harbor Avenue shores are classic places to go see the high water in West Seattle; you can also see the tides’ effects on the Duwamish River by joining either or both of two events, Friday and Saturday mornings – details are on our partner site The South Park News. Right now, the forecast is rainy, but not windy, so you’re not likely to see anything too dramatic, certainly not like last November!
Chief Sealth International High School ninth-grader Jessica e-mailed to say she and a group of classmates plan a beach cleanup on Saturday afternoon, and that your help is welcome:
For my Language Arts class, we are working on ways to spread awareness about ocean plastic pollution. My group chose to pick up trash at the beach in Lincoln Park. We’ll be there on January 17th around 12 to 4 pm. … We’d love to get help and have the community get involved! We’ll be by the picnic shelter north of the bathrooms.
Jessica, Alyssa, Hamdi, ZamZam, and Nathalie (Chief Sealth students)
If you’d like to share their invitation, remember that hovering over the “ShareThis” icon below any WSB stories gives you options for social-media sharing on a wide variety of services or even just e-mailing the link (click the three-dot icon).
(WSB video/photos, unless otherwise credited)
Though the New Year had arrived 10 hours earlier, for hundreds, it wasn’t 2015 until the annual Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach. This year, the water was warmer than the air – ~50 degrees and 32 degrees respectively. Whatever the temperature or weather conditions, some wouldn’t miss it, like Kayleen Dunson and her fellow softball umpires (join them on the field this year!), with the morning’s most-patriotic photo op:
Water-testing was called for, too.
Of course, Seahawks fans were in view …
… after on-the-beach decorating:
Not as many costumed swimmers this year, but festive hats were in evidence:
(That photo and next by Russ Walker, whose Flickr gallery is here)
Big smiles too – this one’s from Frank Gross of Thunder Road Guitars (WSB sponsor):
Finally it was time for the countdown – here’s organizer Mark Ufkes with the megaphone:
And … they’re off!
(Photo by Craig Young)
Post-plunge, organizer Ufkes was of course among those emerging triumphantly:
Spectators caught it all:
Awaiting the newly soaked Polar Bears, chowder from Duke’s across the street, and info about the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s upcoming Totem Cruise:
(Photo courtesy SWSHS/Clay Eals)
That’s SWSHS volunteer Liz Day in the foreground; in the background, Duke’s GM Greg Green and server Autumn Kline with the chowder. Whether you swam, stayed on shore, or stayed home, a Happy 2015 to all!
One more story in keeping with what seems to be today’s theme (water/beaches/wildlife):
At midday on Christmas, Marianne sent word that Seal Sitters were out on the beach at Lincoln Park, guarding a pup. Before we could get out of the house, she sent the photo you see above, with a followup – the seal had returned to the water shortly after SS responder Dana arrived. That wasn’t the end of the story, though. We finally went to Lincoln Park for a walk (which resulted in these pictures) shortly before sunset. As we entered from the Lowman side, we passed the Seal Sitters group (including David and Eilene Hutchinson, recognizable from so many other volunteer endeavors) departing – seems the pup had made a comeback for a while. And now, you can read the full story of seal pup Silverbell and the humans who helped it, via the newest update on the Seal Sitters “Blubberblog.”
'King tide' scene: At Seacrest, floating Water Taxi dock almost level with non-floating fishing pier pic.twitter.com/l1ra1WNrwh
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 26, 2014
As noted here last night, we’re in the midst of three days at which the morning high tides are part of this year’s “king tides.” So we went out today to see what that might bring. The photo above, from Seacrest, was about as dramatic as it got. (added) At nearby Don Armeni, the water was almost up to parking lot/drive-path level:
We checked Alki a few minutes later, and the water wasn’t even over the seawall – see for yourself in this video shared by Joe Szilagyi, who was also out investigating:
Nothing at all like the wind-fueled post-Thanksgiving sights on Alki (and no doubt waterfront residents are relieved!). Tomorrow morning’s high tide, just after 9 am, will also be 13 feet, and that’s it for the official “king tides” until a stretch in January.
(Photos taken Christmas evening at Lincoln Park, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Lots of people out walking the shoreline in Lincoln Park just before tonight’s sunset. If you’re looking for a reason to go out for a walk tomorrow morning, here’s one: The “king tides” are back, and tomorrow is the second of three mornings bringing the highest tide of the month – 13 feet tomorrow, at 8:22 am. With calm weather expected, you might even see someone out for a closer look.
(Just to be clear, this round of “king tides” is arriving in the morning; our photos were taken today at Lincoln Park around 4 pm, when the tide was about as close to average as it can get, not high, not low.)
Thanks to Don Brubeck for sharing the photo of that Christmasy creation on Alki – and thanks to the artist (whoever you are) for creating it!
Another round of tidal extremes has arrived – if you’re up for a late-night low-tide walk, it’s the lowest tide of the month just after 11 pm (-2.7), and almost that low tomorrow night (-2.5) at quarter till midnight. The morning high tides this week are the “king tides” awaited each year, and the <strong>National Weather Service has a Coastal Flood Advisory out for some possible overflow tomorrow: The predicted high tide is 12.6 feet at 6:19 am tomorrow, building toward 13.0 high tides at 7:39 am on Christmas Day (that’ll be the morning high tide for the two days afterward, too). Read more about it on the city’s Convergence Zone website.
That 475-foot stretch of seawall at Emma Schmitz Overlook along Beach Drive is set for replacement in the next few years – but the city and federal agencies working on it are looking for public comment right now. Beach Drive Blog has been following the plans for the project, and this morning, the official news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has arrived:
The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.
Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.
Remember those wild waves at Alki on Saturday?
One inch of sand, David points out. Plus plenty of driftwood:
The afternoon high tides for the next few days are about as high as they were over the weekend – but without the strong north winds and extra stormwater, they’re just, well, high tides.
If you didn’t get to Alki today, to join everyone gawking at the waves and spray, here’s a taste of what it was like, courtesy of your neighbors who sent us video and photos to share (in addition to the ones we published in coverage earlier today). First, two video clips so you can see and hear the wild waves – above, a one-minute series of cuts by Mark; below, a longer look from Jeff Miller:
(Video by Jeff Miller)
This seemed at least twice as ferocious as what we had found at the beach on Friday (as shown here) – fueled by a faster, colder north wind.
Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza‘s namesake artwork was a popular subject, at times appearing in danger of getting knocked down by the waves dwarfing it. David Hutchinson captured a rainbow in a slightly quieter moment of spray:
SEE A DOZEN-PLUS MORE VIEWS – from surfing to posing – after the jump:
A sea star wasn’t always such a memorable sight on a tidepool walk. Saturday night, though, we were glad to hear some were spotted in Constellation Park during a nighttime low-tide walk with Seattle Aquarium naturalists. The photo is by Antonio Ventimiglia, shared by Tom, who spotted the exploration event (sorry we didn’t have it on our calendar; turns out two more are coming up in December and January, and tonight you might just want to explore the beach yourself, as the tide will be out to -2.3 feet around 11:20 pm Sunday). Back to the sea stars; you’ll recall a new report earlier this week suggested a not-so-new virus might be factoring into the massive die-off. “Diver Laura” James, who has long been watching and investigating the sea star situation as a “citizen scientist,” went back to survey in Cove 1 near Seacrest shortly afterward; she shares this video spanning 8 years, from a time of plentiful starfish, to now:
P.S. Laura was out whale-watching Saturday afternoon, as were many others – here’s her video, featuring a multitude of spouts as the group of orcas swam in nearby waters.
(WSB photo: Excavation site at midday today)
As the excavation continues at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach Park, another reminder of what the future million-gallon tank is for – King County announced that Saturday night’s windstorm led to a power outage and another overflow from Murray Pump Station, into Puget Sound.
We’re still waiting to hear the amount of sewage that (updated) 200,000 gallons of sewage overflowed; county Wastewater Treatment spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says bacteria levels “were never elevated,” but the beach was closed “as a precaution” and has since reopened. The county brought in a mobile generator to get the pump station back online and stop Saturday night’s overflow; once the entire Murray project is complete, that shouldn’t be necessary either, since the pump station itself is getting a “permanent back-up electrical system” in addition to the huge tank to hold overflows. Right now, the overflow tank site is more than two-thirds of the way into the 60-foot-deep excavation that’s planned for the $26 million project, which is designed to bring the county into compliance with orders to limit overflows to no more than one per year; currently, this pump station averages five.
Just found out from “Diver Laura” James that Puget SoundKeeper and Ocean Conservancy are partners in another big local beach cleanup – this one, sponsored by Cox Enterprises, is tomorrow (Friday, September 26th) at Lincoln Park, 9 am-1 pm. They’re not soliciting more volunteers but Laura says if you want to help, they have room and won’t turn you away (tell the signup table you’re part of Diver Laura’s “team”). They’ll be on the beach north and south of Colman Pool, with registration at the nearest picnic shelter on the south stretch, starting at 8:45 am.
Lots of questions tonight about a film shoot on Alki Beach. Photo just in, courtesy of Don Brubeck (thank you!). We’re told it was a car commercial – that would explain the car on the sand! – reportedly for the Subaru Impreza.
On the sidewalk next to the volleyball courts on Alki, you’ll find Barbara Clabots and other Surfrider Foundation/Seattle Chapter volunteers getting out the word to get cigarette butts out of the sand, as previewed here the other night. The ones in the container next to Barbara were collected from beach cleanups last year at Alki and Golden Gardens. Surfrider is trying to combat the widely held (and erroneous) belief that the material in cigarette filters is biodegradable – it’s actually plastic. They’re also offering businesses the chance to sponsor canisters like this one for ongoing disposal:
Every time there’s a big cleanup at Alki Beach, we hear about volunteers collecting pounds and pounds and pounds of cigarette butts. Even one is too many, says the Surfrider Foundation, which is trying something new this Saturday – an awareness campaign:
For the last several years, the Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has held numerous beach cleanups at some of the city’s most popular parks.
Even though smoking is banned on Seattle Parks beaches, play areas, and playgrounds, the cigarette filters continue to pile up at every beach cleanup and according to the Ocean Conservancy are the most common item picked up on beach cleanups around the world. A report from San Diego State University found that the toxins leaching from just one cigarette butt could kill a fish placed in a one liter bucket.
“A common misconception is that cigarette filters are biodegradable because they look like a paper product, but they are actually plastic and recyclable”, says Susan North, Surfrider volunteer. “The San Diego and Vancouver Island Surfrider chapters are already leading very successful Hold On To Your Butt campaigns which are cleaning up our beaches, cities, and streets.”
Their goal is to reduce local cigarette litter by educating smokers that butts are plastic and toxic to marine life. Surfrider believes it is important to empower smokers through education and also to provide smokers with ways to dispose of cigarette butts that are not a fire hazard. The chapter is working with Seattle Parks and Recreation by placing two ash cans at Alki Beach Park.
On Saturday, August 23rd, from 10 AM-1 PM at Alki Beach and in conjunction with the Alki Beach Volleyball tournament, Surfrider volunteers will hand out flyers and hold a beach sweep to draw attention to the amount of butts on our beaches. The campaign committee invites the public to attend and learn more about the initiative and find out how to sponsor an ash can.
P.S. Also on Alki this Saturday morning, the annual Great Cross-Sound Race, so heads up, it’ll be busy at the beach!