West Seattle, Washington
Even more than the snow on the road, the sidewalk, the parked cars … the snow on branches is one of the loveliest sights. (See photo below; Comcast was doing its slowdown thing again, so it took us a while to upload.) If you’re natives of warmer climes, as we are, this is always still so fresh and new — get out and take a walk — who knows what it’ll look like tomorrow! (Speaking of which, as of 10:05 pm, no word from Seattle Public Schools on whether they’ll call a “snow day” for tomorrow; you can keep checking their home page, though if they haven’t decided by now, they might not make the call till after 4 am or so.)
Most snow we’ve seen up here in a few years. The accumulation on fencetops and so forth looks like about two inches. How about where you are? (We know this is serious — just spotted a snowplow south of M-Junction on Cali Ave.)
In just about the past 15 minutes, the weather changed from cloudy and mellow to fierce wind and pelting rain. Haven’t we seen this movie before?
West-Seattle-based County Councilguy, Dow Constantine, promised two weeks ago to look into why WS had so much power trouble because of stormy weather. Looks like he’s keeping that promise. In fact, the entire King County Council will hit the road for Fauntleroy in early February. (By then, we fear, we will need an “outage diary” to keep track of everything that’s happened. At this moment, in fact, we are under 3 separate special weather alerts!)
Awakened to calm weather and a comment (post below) that power returned late last night … no outages on the City Light “hotline” now so here’s hoping that was the end of it!
As “The House” mentioned in a comment on our last post, we now have an outage in West Seattle — only one in the city at the moment, according to the City Light hotline; 3,000 customers. Seems like the boundaries they mentioned on the phone recording are a bit wide — “17th SW to 46th SW, Findlay SW to 112th SW” would seem to cover about two-thirds of WS, including our area, and things are OK here (KNOCK WOOD) — but they did say a crew was on the way. Hang in there.
Not sure if it’s scary-windy where you’re at; here on the hill, it’s sounding almost as ferocious as The Big One did. But the National Weather Service’s latest “forecast discussion” insists it’s just about peaked:
SOUTHERLY GRADIENTS SHOULD PEAK BY 10PM SO IT WONT GET MUCH STRONGER THAN IT IS OUT THERE AT 9PM...PERHAPS A LITTLE EXTRA OOMPH AT 10PM WITH FROPA. AND THE BEHIND THE FRONT A FULL WLY GALES COMES DOWN THRU THE STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA IN THE NEXT FEW HOURS. WINDS THRU PUGET SOUND WILL DIE BACK AFTER MIDNIGHT AS A STRONG PSCZ SETS UP...
We were going to post this a little while earlier, with a couple snarky comments, then thought better of it. But now we’ve reconsidered, thanks to a thoughtful reader who passed it along. And since our power hasn’t gone off YET, we might as well post more while we still can. So, we present, the city’s “alert,” which warns, “We know there will be outages.” (Tip #6 makes us chuckle ruefully, remembering the vague SCL web info from previous outages. Perhaps they are truly prepared for detailed info this time?)
For the first time since the first day after The Storm To Be Named Later, West Seattle’s Most Famous Politician turned up on weather watch today, musing about mud. Even though the latest forecast doesn’t look so dire, we’ll give him props for calling out the cavalry just in case.
Kudos to Seattle City Light for a raw, but thorough, update on cause of last night’s outage, presented here in its entirety in case it’s gone when you check the link:
Power to the Highland Park, Delridge, White Center, South Park neighborhoods have been restored. Cause was unstable hillside sluffing off & trees falling into 26kv @ Highland Park Wy SW between W. Marginal Wy SW & SW Webster St. A crew is onsite to repair but ETR is unknown due to still unstable hillside. 1 customer remains out until perm repair is done.
Just back from one last drive to confirm that everyone (at least, ALMOST everyone) seems to be powered up again — though as of just before 9, Highland Park Way was still blocked off, not far from where we snapped this poignant sign during the Big Outage. However, more trouble may yet be afoot if it doesn’t stop raining … still pouring out there, huge puddles everywhere, and of course the ground didn’t have much time to recover from the Christmas Eve deluge.
Pounding rain, dark sky. Hours after a sunshine break. Only quarter till 4 and it’s almost dark enough to get a status check on the remaining WS pockets. No update on the City Light site since this morning. But another gov’t agency, the National Weather Service, wants your help … choosing a name for the storm. (Wind Wallop? Holiday Hell?) And in government-leader news, heard a radio report that Gov. Gregoire and County Exec Sims toured powerless Eastside spots today. Her home page currently headlines a “weather update”; his home page has one high up (but the headline story is still him getting an award); still waiting for word on the status of our mayor, whose page is topped with “emergency preparedness tips.”
Oh, this is a sad sight. Just found this post (with photos) about Lincoln Park playground damage, by local blogger Matt Rosenberg (on Sound Politics).
OK, sympathies to those of you (hopefully those FEW of you) who are still not back on. But as of just a few moments ago — 10:33 am to be precise, three minutes before we arrived home from our latest tour of the wi-fi “hot spots” — our power is back on. Hard to describe our neighborhood as anything but “upper Fauntleroy” — uphill from Lincoln Park. Now begins a day of trying to warm the house back up again, cleaning out the fridge (we’d already put most of the food out for trash pickup after taking photos in case we get to file an insurance claim). And dancing in the streets! More later …
As we drove over Charlestown Hill this morning, headed to clean up at the home of a friend who only lost power till Saturday, we saw a rainbow over the Sound, just past West Point. A promise of power to come? Sure hope so. The challenges involved in restoring it are mentioned in a brief WS anecdote from the very end of this Times article today, and there’s a longer account, focusing on the Arbor Heights effort, in this P-I article. Radio reports this morning suggested City Light hopes to be down to 5,000 homes/businesses without power by tonight.
Now at Caffe Ladro, closer to our outage zone, and it’s the only thing anyone in the place seems to be discussing. Meantime, in the 8 or so hours since we bought our wi-fi card, we’ve learned more about WS wi-fi than we ever expected to learn. Such as … wi-fi at Starbucks costs $ (you have to pay T-Mobile); just about everywhere else (Tully’s, Uptown, CL), it’s free, but look closely if you need to plug into an outlet … Carosello up on 35th, for example, has free wi-fi, but no plugs.
What else we have learned tonight: The radio stirred up a controversy over how fast crews are working to plug us back in. Some Seattle City Light crew members allegedly called this blogger turned talk-show host to say they were supposedly being sent home too soon. Then the top dog of SCL himself called in to refute it. He did say most crews would be resting midnight-7 tonight, before embarking on another 17-hour day. (Online, SCL has just posted an update time-stamped 10 pm tonight, even though it was only 9:21 pm when we checked it.)
Also on the radio … a lady from King County Public Health, who reminded us about the dangers of carbon monoxide, and also confirmed that pretty much everything in our fridge was toast by midday Friday. Sigh.
As for what else we’ve seen re: dark zones tonight: On the north side of the Beach Drive tree blockage, not much has changed since last night. Along Beach itself, everything is fine until Me-Kwa-Mooks, then it’s out till just past Beach Drive Terrace (including everything up along Jacobsen Road). Then from BD Terrace, all is warm and bright including the Menashe light display; right after that, it goes dark again, up till The Tree.
We also saw a few powerless pockets on Delridge, one around a dark stoplight at Brandon, and another area near Home Depot (though HD itself seems back to normal).
If you left home because of the outage and are wondering whether you’ve got juice again, e-mail us and we’ll be happy to look after dusk tomorrow. As for tonight, we’re headed back home to rally ’round the fireplace. Glad we insisted on one when we bought our old but sturdy house so long ago. Stay safe!
Still trouble on the southwest side of WS, our neighborhood included. Lincoln Park Way, from Fauntleroy all the way down to Beach, is out. So is Lowman Beach, where you can hear the deafening rumble of a city truck which we believe is supplying power to the underground pump station there. The south end of Beach Drive, heading north from Lowman, is out, and the street is still closed at Atlas, two blocks before you get to the fallen tree. We’re in The Junction now, where things are bright and busy, and heading north to see if there are any pockets of powerlessness. (Still the oddest pocket we’ve found today is the one little area west of Westwood, sandwiched between “normal” areas along 35th and at the shopping center.)
Wireless connectivity achieved! So our updates may be a bit more frequent. Power at home NOT achieved, however. It seems to get closer by the hour — we recently saw some outdoor lights on, just a couple blocks away. (The city’s just posted a 2 pm update on the City Light home page; the information is somewhat murky, however, mentioning certain “isolated” areas may experience “extended outages” of up to 4 days – is that four MORE days, or four days counting back to 1 am Friday? The Times has a 1:20 pm update with info that’s not a whole lot clearer, except to confirm what many of us already knew — the WS outages are mostly in the “western part of West Seattle.”)
But enough about us. Westwood Village now seems to be entirely back up and running — we spun through there on the way to our current Morgan Junction-ish locale, and all seemed to be restored, though not necessarily all area homes — the stoplight about a block west of the shopping center, on Barton, was still dark.
We’ve also been to The Junction and noticed something mildly interesting — with all the folks out eating at restaurants, the dumpsters on the alley behind the west side of Cali Ave are overflowing. Boy, the trash crews are going to be busy tomorrow. (We might as well start tossing out what was in our fridge, I guess.)
Power is now back at Morgan Junction — the Starbucks, Tully’s, Thriftway, Caffe Ladro, everybody. However, further to the south, some neighborhoods … like ours … are still out. We heard a City Light person say on the radio that 16,000-ish “customers” (which could mean twice as many people, if not more) are still out of power, mostly on the “south” side. How come the north side got its power back first? Is this another north of the Ship Canal/south of the Ship Canal type thing? Oh well, no time for whining.
Late last night, after our last post, we drove around some more. Besides our neighborhood, much of the rest of the outage areas are “pockets.” In Arbor Heights, Shorewood, the area between White Center and Burien, we saw one block off/one block on/etc. We also were at Southcenter for a while — the entire mall was brightly lit and full of people, but as soon as you headed south, Toys R Us and beyond, pitch black.
Another place full of people last night (besides of course our beloved West Seattle Junction) — Downtown Seattle. We thought we’d pop down for some holiday cheer, while trying to stay away from our cold, dark house … couldn’t get a parking spot. Every lot, full. Should have taken a bus. Oh well, next time.
Hope you’re not having trouble with asthma … you’ve probably noticed how much smoke is hanging over the city, since so many people need to use wood for heat … not wishing for rain but when it does come back, at least it will clean out the air!
Back to the power thing for a moment … just noticed on the City Light site that they were promising to “leaflet” neighborhoods without power. Our area is not in the list of neighborhoods mentioned. Maybe it’s time to call and make sure they KNOW we’re out?
But I do have to say, it’s a blessing that we are able to travel a short distance and get food, warmth, Net service, etc. We have friends on the eastside who not only are without power at home, their business districts, gas stations, etc., are out, and Puget Sound Energy is making noises about some of that restoration taking a week or more.
More later … keep letting us know what’s going on where you are by posting comments or e-mailing us. We’re going to The Junction a bit later (we’re online outside WS at the moment) to check out whether Bakery Nouveau has really opened, among other things. (Almost forgot to mention – as of early this morning, power at Westwood Village was still spotty; Target is open on low power … will check other businesses later for the next update.)