ANNIVERSARY: 15 years since Hanukkah Eve Windstorm

Didn’t want to let this calendar date go by without a mention: It’s been 15 years since the Hanukkah Eve Windstormearly on December 15, 2006 – left thousands in West Seattle without power for days, among more than 1 million around the region. This sign photographed at Highland Park Way and SW Othello five days later told the story:

Some pockets of West Seattle didn’t get their power back for almost a week. (Our Upper Fauntleroy neighborhood was out for more than three days.) But other areas had it tougher – more were out on the Eastside, and five died of carbon-monoxide poisoning in Burien – so WS didn’t get as much attention (that’s when, and why, our site started morphing to news coverage). Power crews came from far away to help – note what’s written on this truck we photographed in Alki:

Citywide media also reported that City Light was shorthanded pre-storm. Meantime, before the wind, a 2-inch downpour opened a sinkhole at the top of the SW Thistle stairway, among other damage:

Otherwise, trees came down (and at least one went up). For meteorological reminiscing, you can go here; for a regional recap, see HistoryLink.

15 Replies to "ANNIVERSARY: 15 years since Hanukkah Eve Windstorm"

  • Fiscal Conservative December 16, 2021 (4:12 am)

    Did any of this chaos have an effect on the ballot box in coming years? Were any infrastructure upgrades made? 

  • Tracey December 16, 2021 (4:32 am)

    Thanks for reminding me.   I had just bought my house.  It is the yellow one obscured by the tree.  

  • Jeepney December 16, 2021 (5:34 am)

    Thank you for posting a reminder about what was an unforgettable time in many of our lives.  My family was one of the fortunate ones as our power was restored within a couple of days.  What I remember most about that event was trying to book a hotel in a rather average hotel by Sea Tac airport, and being told it would cost over $300.  Price gouging at it’s worst.  I did click on the HistoryLink article and was amazed that the Weather Service actually held a contest to give the weather disaster a name.  Pretty frivolous use of resources in my opinion.

  • Al King December 16, 2021 (6:31 am)

    My power on Alki and mom’s power on West Genesee Hill was out for 38 hours. My friend in Woodinville had no power for 31 days.

  • MC December 16, 2021 (9:06 am)

    It was a week of misery for many that showed just how unprepared we were for an extended loss of power. The following story about the windstorm was in the WS Herald a few weeks later. You are welcome to use it.

    * * *

    It looked like a war zone. Devastation everywhere. Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off the worst areas, areas that could still be dangerous to enter. Bypassing those spots I waded on through a sea of broken and severed limbs. It was a sad sight, but morbid curiosity kept me going. Many of the victims were old, very old. Trying to determine the age of one of the fallen I crouched down beside the corpse and started counting. The ring count came to 150. This fallen tree in Lincoln Park was well over a century old. It was now firewood.

    An even larger tree had fallen on the children’s playground, smashing some of the relatively new climbing bars. It was December 16, 2006; just two days after a big storm. Several huge trees had come down around the park, severing power lines. My parents, who lived near the park, were still without power (and would be for six days). The weather was freezing, but luckily they had a fireplace for heat. My ears and fingers were getting numb, so I put my hat and gloves on before leaving the mess in the park to wander up Fauntleroy.

    I passed the park mini-mart. Some fellow citizens had pulled off its doors during the night and looted the place. Burglar alarms need electricity, too. As I walked north I came to the Fauntleroy big bend, two blocks west of Morgan Junction. Here a crew was busy cutting up a massive old-timer that had blown down and plunged hundreds of homes into darkness and cold.

    As I worked my way north I checked every store I passed. None had any D-cell batteries. I had told my folks I’d try to find some for their battery-powered TV. But the story was the same everywhere. “We’re expecting a shipment at four o’clock. Where’s the Energizer bunny when you need her?

    I was not in the mood to wait several hours for the promised batteries so I headed north towards home. I had finally reached the land of light, where electricity still flowed. Cars were backed up for a block around each gas station that was open. I hadn’t seen lines like that since the 70s, when the oil embargo was on and the price first exceeded a dollar a gallon. If I’d only known gas would reach three bucks I’d have stashed away a few hundred thousand gallons to sell off in my golden years.

    I stepped into my house, appreciating the sound of the furnace running more than ever. It was a simple sound, one most of us take for granted. I looked at my small supply of firewood and realized I’d been lucky not to have lost power. I also realized that the advice to be prepared for a three-day emergency is woefully inadequate. I promised myself to have wood, food, batteries, and water to last at least ten days. You should, too.

  • PeterT December 16, 2021 (10:02 am)

    We were out for six days in the 6000 block of Beach Drive due to a double whammy of feeder cut down the street from a snapped hemlock limb, as well as the general outage. Once we were back up, I researched and purchased a Honda generator, which I keep tuned and tested once a year.I haven’t had to use it yet.  

  • JJ December 16, 2021 (10:46 am)

    Hmm. Our block used to loose power all the time back then, often for extended periods.  Every fall we’d get our box of candles ready. Was that the year of the week long power outage in the snow also? I remember warming an elderly neighbor by the fire, and making tea and hotcakes in the hearth. And huddling, unbathed, in layers of down. It felt so pre-industrial. I’m glad whatever it was that was so fragile on our block got fixed. For anyone who’s new to the area… be sure to have disaster gear ready for a week or weeks without services.  We have so many kinds of disasters around here (wind, floods, mud, ice, earthquake, pandemic, zombie apocalypse, bridge failures). We should all have a disaster kit with a pantry and off grid cooking plan, drinking water, first aid, cold and wet weather clothing, tarps, rope, bucket, toilet paper ;), wind-up radio, lighter, hatchet, shovel, prescriptions, etc., maybe even a small solar power back-up system… We can be a resilient community.

  • Nightingale December 16, 2021 (12:15 pm)

    Power at my house was out for a week however what I remember
    most is from working as a home hospice nurse. 
    Families struggled to keep their loved ones comfortable while cold and
    exhausted.  It certainly put things into perspective
    as my family searched out friends with electricity where our kids found
    adventure with multi-family slumber parties.  

  • Erin98126 December 16, 2021 (12:59 pm)

    Our side of 31st, the west side, was out for 8 days. The east side of the street lost power for less than half a day. I remember being so disheartened to look out our windows and see the neighbors across the street were warm and cozy and not a one offered an extension cord to at least operate a small space heater.  

  • Power in Belvidere December 16, 2021 (12:59 pm)

    We actually had power in the Belvedere neighborhood but my elderly grandparents in Alki did not. They moved in with us for a week and we learned about their nightly vodka martinis and the need to watch the news at full volume, among other things. Multi-generational bonding! :) 

  • T Rex December 16, 2021 (1:24 pm)

    I remember Steve Pool saying “its not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. And if your bedroom is on the south side of your house, you should consider sleeping elsewhere” Probably not the exact wording but…I grew up in the Texas panhandle with tornados every summer. This storm scared the crap out of me. I slept in my living room that evening as best as I could, listening to the trees in Lincoln Park snapping like twigs. My yard which has old growth trees was a complete disaster. SEVEN trips to the dump that day in my truck. Not kidding. To this day when the winds start blowing, I talk myself down off the cliff. 

  • Ly December 16, 2021 (2:25 pm)

    I remember this! Lived on 63rd and Alki at the time, and saw the sky light up when the transformers just outside the condo started exploding. Went to work next day, came home to an entire block in pitch darkness, groped around in the dark trying to enter the condo (this was before we all had phones to light the way lol) . It took a long time for power to be restored. Crazy times.

  • Todd Ainsworth December 16, 2021 (2:28 pm)

    I was at the Seahawk game the night the storm hit. It was against San Francisco and on my dad’s birthday. He had died in 2001, but was a huge 49er fan. I felt is was a strange coincidence. On the way home, we had no idea just how bad it was and went to Alki for a post-game beer and the bar suddenly went dark. Trees were down all over and our house lost power for a couple of days, but I know areas were down for a week. 

  • L December 16, 2021 (5:22 pm)

    I remember being at Beveridge Place Pub (old location!), everyone huddled around tables and the chorus of “oooohhhh….yay!” each time the generators cycled.  Also the cheering and clapping for the power crews out trying to fix all the damaged lines.  

  • Jort December 16, 2021 (7:10 pm)

    I remember that storm well. Frightening and humbling. 

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