West Seattle, Washington
2:12 PM: Thunderstorms have arrived, and the National Weather Service says they’re likely for much of the afternoon:
Thunderstorms across central Puget Sound this afternoon. Heavy rain and thunderstorms will be possible over this area for the next few hours. When thunder roars, go indoors. #WAwx pic.twitter.com/bNFAN2Goc1
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) September 18, 2021
We’ll be monitoring for storm effects – power outages (just flickered here), etc. – if anything happens in your neighborhood, our hotline (voice or text) is 206-293-6302.
2:21 PM: And now there’s a sizable outage – almost 1,000 customers in Highland Park/southeast West Seattle. Some signals are out, too – Olson/Myers was just mentioned via emergency radio – remember, a non-functioning signal is a 4-way stop.
2:28 PM: The outage has expanded to another 2,000+ customers, including South Park – 3,235 total in what the map designates as two outages.
3:16 PM: Some texters are reporting the power’s back – the map tends to lag so we may not get the full picture on that for a few minutes. (added) Map has now updated – all 3,235 are shown as restored. (The map had suggested a 9 pm restoration estimate – remember that, as happened here, those are usually way off and not worth paying attention to – they are just guesses.) P.S. City Light says a fallen tree’s at fault.
4:45 PM: Forecast says there’s a chance of more thunderstorms tonight, and wind up to 25 mph too.
5:35 PM: Thanks for the tip. Another power outage started half an hour ago – 241 customers are out just north of The Junction:
7:50 PM: The outage north of The Junction is down to 114 customers, and is attributed to “equipment failure.” And now another outage – at least 20 customers along Fairmount Ravine, with a “transformer fire” response at Harbor/Fairmount.
In our coverage of the Morgan Community Association‘s summer meeting, we mentioned Seattle Public Utilities‘ plan for sewer-line work at the dead end of SW Beveridge Place [map], southwest of Morgan Junction Park. MoCA president Deb Barker sends this update: “The Beveridge Place SW neighbors, owners and Morgan Community Association want to let the community know that SPU will begin sewer line repair work in and adjacent to the Beveridge Place SW roadway west of California Ave SW beginning on Monday, September 20. Parking restrictions will be in place on the dead end roadway during the job, and everyone is encouraged to pay attention to the ‘No Parking’ signs.” SPU told MoCA in July that the work would take about two weeks. Meantime, Barker says neighbors and MoCA reps also have met with SDOT “to request repair of decaying portions of SW Beveridge Place pavement and sidewalks beyond those areas associated with SPU’s pending activity. SDOT will take a few weeks to evaluate the request.”
12:43 AM: Though it’s not on the Seattle Public Utilities map yet, there’s a water outage in the Luna Park area. That’s according to multiple readers who’ve texted. 206-386-1800 is the number to call when you’re having water woes, and one texter reports they said there’d watr break on Avalon.
5:06 PM: Thanks for the updates in comments. We asked SPU about the outage and got this response from spokesperson Shanna Christie:
Last night around 11 pm, SPU crews responded to a water main break near the 3000 BLK of SW ANDOVER ST. Water was shutoff to 43 service lines to make the emergency repair. The break was fixed and water was back on around 2 am for some customers. A section of about 25 customers remained out of water due to a broken valve. Around 8 am today, a second SPU crew began work to repair the broken valve. This required a second emergency water shutdown impacting the same group of 43 customers, including the approximately 25 customers whose water was already off. The second repair was complete and water was back on for all customers by 12:30 pm today.
As promised, we asked Seattle City Light today for details on what caused Sunday’s outages affecting more than 3,200 homes and businesses in West Seattle, from North Delridge to Harbor Avenue. First, to recap, as reported here yesterday afternoon/evening – 107 customers went out at 11:30 am, another 3,100 at 2 pm. Most of the second group had power back about an hour later, while for the rest, it took later. Here’s how SCL spokesperson Julie Moore explains it:
We saw a few pole fires yesterday, including the two that caused the outages in West Seattle. After a dry period, when there is a mist as opposed to a sustained rain, it is not uncommon for insulators to track (leak electrical current), which can cause a fire. The first one was a pole at 2833 SW Yancy St. This was on a lateral line that only impacted those customers fed from that line. The second one was a pole at 3022 SW Bradford St. For this one, we needed to shut down the feeder that feeds the lateral, which is why it initially impacted a greater number of customers. We were able to restore the bulk of the customers (all but 455 of the 3,000+) pretty quickly through switching. The rest were restored once we completed repairs.
The two pole-fire locations are just a few blocks apart.
12:05 PM: Thanks to Patricia for the tip. That’s the Seattle City Light map for an outage affecting more than 100 customers east of the Luna Park area since about 11:30 am. SCL attributes it to “equipment failure.”
12:22 PM: The West Seattle Health Club is without power (we couldn’t reach them by phone so we just went over to check).
2:05 PM: We don’t know if this is related to the first outage but now 3,100 more customers north of the original outage zone have just lost power too.
The SFD log shows at least two business fire alarms have been triggered by the outage – not uncommon – so if you’re noticing emergency responses, that’s likely what it is.
2:15 PM: Commenters are noting that the new outage area includes Admiral Safeway and Metropolitan Market – a large stretch of the Admiral business district.
2:36 PM: The Admiral Theater is also among the businesses affected.
2:47 PM: The second outage too is attributed to “equipment failure.”
2:56 PM: Some customers now have their power back. The second outage zone is down to 455, and the original 107 are still out, per SCL. Meantime, there’s a crash at one of the intersections where the signals have been out – this was reported just after 2:30 at Admiral/41st, where eastbound lanes of Admiral are blocked:
3:13 PM: SCL says via Twitter that “The primary cause is under investigation.” If we don’t get specifics on the cause today, we will have a followup tomorrow, as always. The outage map shows the 455 still out after losing power at 2 pm are in an area immediately west of the still-out 107 whose power went out at 11:30 am:
5:10 PM: The original outage – 107 customers east of the Luna Park area – is over, after five-plus hours
7:25 PM: Though the Luna Park businesses were still dark when we drove by about 20 minutes ago, SCL says everyone’s back on now.
The alert is from Seattle Public Utilities: Starting next week (probably on Wednesday) and continuing for up to two weeks, a section of 44th SW will be closed north of SW College while crews fix a broken sewer mainline. The notice explains that the problem “was discovered by a private side-sewer contractor who notified the City of Seattle.” Crews will work Tuesdays through Fridays, 7:30 am-4 pm; sewer services is not expected to be disrupted during the work. Here’s the full notice.
MIDNIGHT: The outage map shows a few have their power back – the customer count is now 148. The cause, meantime, is labeled as “equipment failure.”
2:37 AM: Not fixed yet.
10:15 AM: Down to 54 customers now. City Light is working in the 1400 block:
We’re waiting to hear back from SCL’s media team about the outage’s cause.
1:42 PM: SCL spokesperson Jenny Levesque says the cause was “a failed underground cable.” She also says everyone’s back on, though the map shows those last 54 customers – but also says its last update was 4+ hours ago.]
1:54 PM: After we asked a followup question, she clarified those 54 are indeed still out.
3 PM: SCL says everybody’s back on.
Early Wednesday, more than 8,000 Seattle City Light customers from Highland Park to Burien lost power. The image above, from SCL’s outage map, shows the outage zone at its peak; half the affected homes/businesses got power back after about three hours, and less than an hour after that, the outage was down to 585 customers. But the problem affected thousands more people because it happened along a highway, closed all lanes, and jammed traffic through much of the morning commute. So what exactly happened? We asked SCL’s Julie Moore, who responded today, explaining the cause resembled what took out ~2,000 customers last Friday/Saturday:
The outage cause was similar to the one last Friday. While doing a planned maintenance project, a piece of equipment failed and the overhead pulling rope dropped down on to our primary voltage electrical system, causing the lines to fault. We again needed a clearance – when we intentionally cut power to a particular area –for the electrical workers to safely remove the pulling rope from the primary lines and then we were able to restore the system to its normal configuration.
It is unusual for this piece of equipment to fail and we are looking into why it failed. The work being done is designed to replace and upgrade older static wire and replace with a new wire that has an optic cable capability. This work is still ongoing and the targeted completion date is the end of August.
3:13 AM: Thanks for the tips. Power is out for more than 8,000 customers in south West Seattle, White Center, and beyond. Updates to come.
3:40 AM: City Light says the cause is “under investigation.” Some of the affected customers lost power in outages just last Friday/Saturday (here’s our Monday followup on those causes).
4:54 AM: Via Twitter, SCL says, “They know the cause and are working to get power restored safely and quickly.” (Please let us know when you’re back on, since the map lags – thanks!)
6:10 AM: Thanks to everyone who just texted that their power’s back. SCL says the cause was “Transformer wire fell on a distribution wire.”
6:23 AM: SCL map has updated and shows about half the customers are back, half still out.
6:50 AM: Now the outage is down to 585 customers, mostly south of South Park, though the Myers Way pockets are still shown as out.
That’s an image from the peak of the power problems we covered here Friday/Saturday. Today as promised we followed up with Seattle City Light; spokesperson Julie Moore just responded with this explanation:
On Friday, Aug. 13, we actually experienced two separate events that impacted customers in the same area of West Seattle. The first one was an equipment failure in the underground system that initially impacted ~200 customers. We restored power to some Friday evening, but the final 59 were still out until mid-day on Saturday. As you know, underground outages can sometimes take longer to identify the location of the failure and also to make the necessary repairs.
The second, larger outage impacting ~2,000 customers, occurred in an overhead system. During a regularly scheduled maintenance job, a piece of electrical equipment failed and resulted in an overhead pulling rope dropping down on to our primary voltage electrical system, causing the lines to fault. The crew first made the area safe for the general public. A clearance – when we intentionally cut power to a particular area – was needed for the electrical workers to safely remove the pulling rope from the primary lines and then we were able to restore the system to its normal configuration.
Internet-service outages are generally not as simple to quantify as oh, say, power and water, but we’ll mention them here when there are reports from multiple areas. Molly said CenturyLink is out atop Genesee Hill and that it appeared to be a wider outage; she’s had trouble getting through to CL by phone. The crowdsourced site DownDetector shows trouble, and we checked around on Twitter; others who say it’s out for them are in areas from Admiral to Lincoln Park. (We’re just east of LP and ours is fine.) Anyone else?
5:25 PM: Thanks for the tips. A “bang” was heard and then the power went out – we’re getting reports so far from the South Delridge area.
5:29 PM: A caller says there’s a wire down in trees by Delridge and Kenyon. The City Light map says more than 200 customers are out.
6:05 PM: The signal at 17th/Roxbury is out. Remember that a nonworking signal means an all-ways stop.
7 PM: Thanks for the tips. The outage hss just expanded to more than 2,000 customers.
8:49 PM: The map attributes the outage to unspecified “equipment failure.” We have a call out to their on-call media rep seeking further elaboration.
9:55 PM: Power’s back for almost everyone, though one of the original pockets – 50 customers – is still shown as out.If we don’t hear sooner, we’ll follow up f9r a more detailed explanation of the cause on Monday.
ADDED SATURDAY AFTERNOON: As of 3:30 pm Saturday, the map shows 59 customers still out, mostly in pockets along SW Roxbury. Here’s the screengrab for the record:
5:13 PM SATURDAY: Since then, everybody’s been reconnected.
10:06 PM: Thanks for the tip. 166 customers in the Endolyne/Brace Point area just lost power a few minutes ago. This is part of the area where a big Seattle City Light cable-replacement project is about to start, as we reported this morning. Updates to come.
11:55 PM: The outage map now blames this on “equipment failure.”
1:55 AM: Still out.
7:20 AM: Still out, and the SCL map shows the outage expanded to 336 customers – the size of at least two outages in that same area last year – early this morning.
Undergrounding electrical service doesn’t make it outage-proof. Residents in the Brace Point area south of Fauntleroy know that firsthand. After multiple outages, they’re about to get replacements for half-century-old underground infrastructure. We’ve reported on the long-planned project before; on Wednesday afternoon, Seattle City Light offered an online meeting for residents to get project details and ask questions. The meeting was scheduled for an hour but lasted only half that, adjourned when attendees ran out of questions.
Here are our toplines, starting with where the work will happen:
(You can see a slightly larger version of the map on the project website.) The contractor is Olson Brothers Excavating of Puyallup, awarded a $7 million contract for the project. Reps from both the contractor and SCL were at the meeting; they said the work will last “two to three years.” While some work was done to bolster underground cables with silicone injections a decade ago, it only worked on half the cables, so replacement is needed now. Other background:
The work involves trenching and will all be done in public right-of-way.
It was also made clear that the work only involves the city-owned system, no private connections to residences. Some outages will be needed, but those aren’t expected until later in the project, at least a year from now, and SCL promises there’ll be advance notice unless it’s an “emergency” outage. The outages, they promised, would last hours, not days, and would generally be in the daytime. (Same goes for the work hours – weekdays, 8-5, is the standard plan.)
Crews will be working in multiple areas concurrently; at day’s end, any trenching that hasn’t been filled (temporary fill will precede permanent fill) will be covered with steel plates.
So when and where will the work start? Preparation, such as surveying, is happening now. 47th SW is the first planned work location, according to the contractor. One resident voiced concern about access, and was assured that access will be maintained, and any road closures would be fleeting – “minutes” in duration. Residents with questions/problems during the construction can contact the contractor via firstname.lastname@example.org.
One more note: SCL says it’ll link a recording of the Wednesday meeting on the project website soon.
9:20 AM: Thanks for the tips (and the texted photo) – another utility problem: A water break on 22nd SW between Trenton and Cloverdale. The Seattle Public Utilities water-outage map shows 60+ customers out while they make “emergency repairs.”
9:54 AM: We went to the repair scene to find out more. 22nd is closed between Trenton and Cloverdale; an on-scene supervisor says they’re replacing a 6′ section of water main that broke. Also, we were told, if your property has any damage as a result of this, contact email@example.com.
2 PM: The break is repaired and water service restored, says Sabrina Register of SPU. She says it involved an 8-inch water main “but at this time, there’s no indication the cause is construction related. There’s quite a bit of construction happening nearby, but not on the street where the break occurred. The cause could be related to aging infrastructure.”
8:30 AM: Chris says the signal lights at Olson/Myers are out.
9:58 AM: Julie Moore from SCL tells WSB they still haven’t figured out the cause; however, the map shows the number of customers out is down to 155.
11:16 AM: Texters say their power’s back. Meantime, the SCL map now attributes the outage to “equipment failure” (we’ll update when we get more specifics on what failed).
ADDED FRIDAY: According to Moore, “a tree fell and broke a cross arm on a pole” along 3rd SW near Westcrest Park.
Thanks to Janine for the tip. Almost 100 homes in the Fairmount Park area were without power for more than an hour this morning; the outage has been resolved but we’re noting it here just for the record, as the Seattle City Light website doesn’t archive outages. Janine said the outage was preceded by a flash and “boom” around 8 am; the outage was resolved sometime after 9.
4 PM: A Seattle Fire callout has arrived in the 2900 block of SW Myrtle in High Point to check out a reported gas leak. No other details so far.
4:03 PM: Firefighters have told dispatch the problem was apparently in the kitchen and they’re looking to cut off gas “to the entire building.” (The address is for the True-living Church, mentioned here recently because of a redevelopment plan.)
4:11 PM: The response is winding down.
Last night we published a short reader report about a water-pressure problem in Belvidere, with Seattle Public Utilities telling a customer that a pump-station power problem was involved. We followed up with SPU today and learned that the city believes a thief/vandal is to blame. From SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin:
Around 7:45 pm last night, a power failure occurred at SPU’s Scenic Heights pump station, located at 3915 SW Charlestown St. This caused about 1,358 customers in the area to temporarily experience low pressure for about four hours (see map of the two areas impacted – outlined in purple). SPU electricians and maintenance staff were immediately dispatched to the pump station to investigate the problem. Crews discovered that an electrical plug-in device appeared to have been stolen. It was replaced and power was restored to the pump station around 11:45 pm. SPU is investigating this incident as possible vandalism.
We have a followup question asking for more information about the “electrical plug-in device.”
ADDED: Here’s how Goodwin answered that followup:
The safety of the drinking water supply was never compromised, and SPU staff continues to monitor and operate the drinking water system 24/7.
An electrical disconnect switch was likely stolen from the pump station, which caused the pump station to lose power. The switch is normally used to turn off power to the pump station if it needs to be maintained, so we can do maintenance safely.
When this particular pump station loses power, customers’ water pressure drops, but remains within a level designed to protect public health.
We are replacing the stolen electrical switch with a more tamper-proof model, and we’re evaluating added security needs at the pump station.
Got a text about low water pressure in Belvidere. 206-386-1800 is how to report any water problem – pressure, discoloration, outage, etc. The texter reports back that Seattle Public Utilities says they’re having a power problem at a substation; electricians are working on it.
2:41 PM: Police are responding to a report of a driver hitting a pole, with downed wires, at 37th/Charlestown, and the City Light outage map shows 123 customers out as a result. Updates to come.
3:10 PM: We found the pole and wires, but no police and no car. There was no SFD callout so apparently no injuries.
3:38 PM: Thanks to Carolyn for texting to report that the Genesee/Avalon signal is flashing red.
4:36 PM: For some reason police have just been re-dispatched to this; this time the dispatch described the vehicle as a “white flatbed crane.”
4:45 PM: Commenter Linda, in the neighborhood, says the vehicle in question has stayed on scene since the incident 2+ hours ago.
5:17 PM: Commenters report the power’s back, and SCL’s map says the outage is down to 21 customers.
10:34 PM: Those 21 customers are still out.
Nine days after we first reported on warning signs south of Alki Point because of a sewer leak on private property, the problems aren’t over after all, Seattle Public Utilities confirms. Two days after that first report, SPU told us the leak had stopped, but bacteria levels were still high enough to keep nearby beaches closed to water activities. Then on Wednesday a reader tipped us that more signage had gone up east of Alki Point, including one seen at 64th/Alki. So we checked back with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, whose reply identifies the problem property for the first time:
Seattle Public Utilities staff continue to test water samples daily to determine when the beach can safely reopen to water activities. Since the July 13 discovery of the overflow caused by a broken side sewer at a multi-unit building at 3717 Beach Drive, samples have shown higher than acceptable levels of bacteria. Continued high readings of bacteria revealed additional sewer-related issues at the multi-unit building and prompted SPU’s Spill Response team to extend and expand the beach closure .
SPU property owners are responsible for maintaining their sewer lines and any discharges from unmaintained lines can result in fines. SPU will issue a notice of violation to the property owner.
Tide flows and the availability of contractors have impacted their repair schedule. Repairs are scheduled to begin (today). SPU staff will continue to work with the building owner and Public Health-Seattle & King County to determine when water activities along Beach Dr. can safely resume.
3717 Beach Drive is the Harbor West condo building, built on pilings over the water. The complex had a major sewer leak back in 2013.
5:01 AM: Thanks for the tips. 144 homes are without power on Beach Drive. A downed tree in the 5200 block of Jacobsen Road [map] gets the blame, according to email; the 911 log shows a “wires down” call there just before 3:30 am.
6:15 AM: Jacobsen is still blocked both ways by the tree. The closure sign isn’t until part of the way down the hill, however, so while we were there, drivers were starting down the hill – then having to turn around once they came to the sign. (Added) Here’s a closer look at where the tree is tangled with the wires:
We’ll check back in a few hours.
11:15 AM: Update in comments from Tom – the road had cleared for a while but is now closed again for City Light work.
1:58 PM: As noted in comments and confirmed by the SCL map, the power is back on. (Added – We have confirmed that the road is open again, too.)