The Seattle area is known for lots of trees and fairly calm weather. Because of the calm weather, trees tend to last a little past their due date around here, and when you have a little wind, they tend to blow over. Especially if the wind is preceded by a couple of months of constant rainfall.

The windstorm of December 14, 2006 was a memorable one. I lost power, my buddy Mark Mollo lost power, in fact something like a million people lost power. And a few got squished by trees.

For most people, these things aren't quite as bad as they sound. I was able to snap some pictures, and am uploading them from my laptop at Bellevue's main public library. Last night, there was 16 inches of water in the parking lot at my apartment. I failed to take a picture because my apartment is 4 feet under that level, so I assumed that I had a big time flooding problem, and blogging wasn't on my mind. But it turned out to be no big deal, just a clog in the parking lot drain.

In the suburbs east of Seattle, however, life is not going on as normal. Roads that are accompanied by power lines now have wires down every half mile or so. Every now and then there are situations sufficient to close the road completely. And even where there is no closure or obvious wires down, there is damage to the high voltage lines:
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Because of the widespread damage, I am taking the predictions that power will be restored in 2 or 3 days with a BIG grain of salt. I think it will be most of a week before we see power. They can't power up until they have inspected and repaired all those lines, and right now, I doubt that they make it more than a couple blocks before finding another spot that needs a repair. And that means that they are going to run out of material.

Mark Mollo's neighbors are a remarkable mathematician and biologist. One of the things he's remarkable for is an ability to cut down trees and completely control where they land. It turns out that doing this without a permit can get you into trouble with the city.

Trees are very tall and heavy objects, and when they fall down they can cause a great deal of damage. The ability to control where they fall is of great value, especially in a suburban setting.

Perhaps this ability had something to do with the relatively small amount of damage that downing of this 2 foot diamater tree produced. A couple of vehicles were lightly damaged, fortunately, no baby's were hurt in the producing of these pictures:
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It's now the day after the storm, my buddy's had his first full night with no electricity. My buddy's dog likes the idea of having the heat turned off and having the humans stay in a room with the birds and a Franklin stove. And the birds liked the idea to. The cat, the cat thought otherwise. The birds are pretty mean, but I don't have any photographic evidence. It's hard to remember to grab a camera when you're dialing 911. But the dog's character is well attested to by her behavior every Christmas.

Each Christmas, the dog receives a Santa plush toy as a gift. Each year we hope that she will learn to treat her toys with care. Each year, the toy doesn't live to see New Year's Day. It isn't chewed up, no, it is shaken to pieces. If Santa doesn't bring you any gifts this year, it's quite possible that this is due to what happened to one of his helpers:
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Santa is next.

I went over to the neighbor's house to see when they were going to cut up the tree on his lawn, but they're going to have it done by professionals. I don't see why we're not considered "professionals". If by professionals he means people who cut up downed trees for a living, then my guess is that he's going to have that tree for a very long time. Heck, we even have a pair of ballistic pants around which are OSHA required protection while chain sawing.

It's now Monday morning after the Thursday night windstorm. My buddy got power Sunday morning, I got it Saturday night. Work crews are concentrating on getting feeder lines back on, neighborhood power lines still close streets. Locals have added cardboard signs indicating suggested detours. I'll try to get a photo this morning.

There's still a lot of territory that isn't powered, particularly the business districts of NE85th street in west Redmond, and NE20th street in east Bellevue. I can't imagine what the owners of the retail establishments are going through. Christmas is where they expect to make their yearly profits.

The Safeway near my place is in the NE 85th street business district and is still closed (at least at night), but the one near my buddy on NE 24th street was open. I picked up some food there. Since there are still about a half million people without power, I left what bread was there for the needy, and only bought stuff that needed refrigeration or electricity.

The smell of wood smoke is in the air as people in these wealthy neighborhoods light their seldom used fireplaces in the absence of other heat. In order to keep the air clean, it is prohibited in this area to burn wood for heat unless it is your only source of heat or the method you use is one that prevents much pollution. The sunsets have been pretty.

Emergency shelters have been opened and the authorities are attempting to get people to use them. Saturday night, the 710 radio station repeatedly pointed out that it would be below freezing that night, and suggested that people without heat should stay at one of the emergency shelters. However, some of the emergency shelters have been closed due to lack of interest, and the others are said to have very low attendance. The authorities are starting to whine a bit in the attempt to get people to use these things.

It's hard for me to say why other people aren't going to emergency shelters. For me, I don't turn on the heat in my apartment except for the bathroom, anyway, so it's no big deal. Other people have fireplaces, and yet more have camping equipment. Perhaps the bad publicity associated with the New Orleans shelters has some affect. The announcer on 710 was claiming that staying in your house in freezing weather was equivalent to camping out in the open your backyard in freezing weather. Apparently the authorities have not realized that this logic doesn't work very well with practical people who realize that even an unheated house provides protection from the rain and wind.

Meanwhile, at my apartment, perhaps because He needs me to fight the forces of evil, God saw fit to stop a tree from crushing my Miata. And yet more evidence of the viciousness of little white dogs. While relaxing on my buddy's couch, I was attacked by his dog. I tried to protect my face from her kiss (my nickname for her is "copraphagia"), but she got past my fists and had her way:

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To examine one of the above at high resolution (for example, to print, or if you want to see the little numbers on the faces), you can click on the images directly here:
NE 24th Street, Bellevue
Wire Down near Bellevue Library
Powerline Damage, near Library
What the Bottom of a Tree Looks Like
Tree Down
Tree on two vehicles
Baby On Board Sign
Catch Elf
Shake Elf
Carry Elf to Lair
Tilting Tree
Dog Attack
Germ Transfer