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:
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
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
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
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:
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
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
Meanwhile, at my apartment, perhaps because He needs
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:
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 on two vehicles
Baby On Board Sign
Carry Elf to Lair