10 years ago today, historic Hanukkah Eve windstorm pummeled Western Washington
SEATTLE -- If you lived in Western Washington 10 years ago, you were likely on your last hours of power and about to embark on a search for flashlights.
Wednesday marks the 10 year anniversary of the infamous Hanukkah Eve Storm that brought wind gusts as high as 70 mph in the Puget Sound region. The peak wind gust at Sea-Tac Airport reached 69 mph -- still standing as the airports highest gust ever recorded since it opened in 1945. Everett's Paine Field hit 66 mph, Tacoma hit 68 mph and 74 mph along the Hood Canal Bridge. The region was lucky the storm didn't come in until late in the evening as there was a Seahawks-49ers football game at (then) Qwest Field earlier in the evening.
The storm was blamed for 14 deaths and knocking out power to over 1 million people -- some who didn't get power restored for over a week. At 3 a.m. the next morning as the storm raged, Seattle City Light reported more than 50 percent of the city's customers were in the dark. One woman, Kate Fleming, died when she drowned in the basement of her Madison Valley home. Eight deaths were as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from people trying to heat their homes using indoor generators or other sources of heat meant for outdoors. Others were killed by falling trees.
I've gone back into our archives to find some of the posts from that night. This first article was our real-time event blog I wrote as we rode out the storm here at KOMO Plaza. It's followed up by the Associated Press story that was written Friday afternoon -- the afternoon after the brunt of the storm on Dec. 15, 2006. Many of the deaths from the storm hadn't been reported yet and some occurred in the days after the storm.
I'd also invite you to read local storm researcher Wolf Read's excellent post that has all the weather geeky details about the storm.
The storm that fizzled as it approached our region on Oct. 15, 2016 was originally calculated to rival this storm's strength, which I also hope sheds light on why local meteorologists were very concerned about that storm.
LIVE BLOG FROM DEC. 14-15, 2006 (Reverse Chronological Order)
FRIDAY DECEMBER 15:
6:30: Sea-Tac Airport now allowing both arrivals and departures, but with limited service and flights are being staggered.
6:15 p.m.: Governor Chris Gregoire has proclaimed a state of emergency in 17 Western Washington counties because of damage caused by the windstorm that blew through the state. The proclamation covers Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, King, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum and Whatcom counties.
The proclamation allows state agencies to use their resources to assist local communities in their recovery efforts, and authorizes the Washington National Guard to activate its resources if needed.
5:30 p.m.: Power outage at Sea-Tac Airport knocks out radar. All outgoing flights suspended; incoming flights allowed to land.
5:20 p.m.: Puget Sound Energy Update: Power has been restored to about 100,000 customers. About 600,000 still without power
4:40 p.m.: Some planes damaged at Boeing Field due to wind.
4:27 p.m. Snohomish County PUD update: They are down to 45,000 without power, mainly concentrated in the south and east.
Hardest hit include Edmonds, Canyon Park and Maltby.
4:15 p.m.: The Crow's Nest marina at Tacoma reports that five boats sank, several others are partially submerged and
as many as 50 were damaged in the windstorm.
4:05 p.m. The All My Children episode that will be pre-empted at noon Friday will air 3:00-4:00am Saturday morning, December 16.
3:55 p.m.: WSU King County Extension Web site provides forest storm damage information for homeowners and landowners: http://www.king.wsu.edu/forestry/windstorm.html
3:13: Seattle City Light power update: 34,000 customers have been restored and 121,000 customers and 52 feeders are still without power. Seattle City Light expects to have an additional 41,000 customers restored by midnight Friday. By Saturday midnight, we expect to have another 50,000 customers restored. Unfortunately, there are pockets of outages that may last several days due to the amount and severity of the damage caused by the wind and downed trees. Areas that are particularly hard hit are Burien, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Madison Valley, Madrona, Rainier Valley, Skyway, Richmond Beach, parts of West Seattle, Normandy Park, and Tukwila.
1:30 p.m.: 520 Bridge reopens to traffic.
1:45 p.m. Puget Sound Blood Center donor centers are open, normal hours, through the weekend. At least eight mobile blood drives, half of those scheduled Friday, were canceled as a result of the storm.
1:22 p.m.: Swedish Providence Campus in Seattle is running on emergency power. All clinics are closed and elective surgeries have been canceled. ER remains open.
1:17 p.m.: Crews in Grays Harbor aiming to turn power back on for most people by 9 p.m. tonight. Crews do say, however, few may be without power until Sunday, possibly even Monday.
1:10 p.m.: 75,000 customers - and no longer 100,000 - in Tacoma have no power.
12:59 p.m.: 67,000 customers still without power in Snohomish.
12:20 p.m.: The Guemes Island Ferry reportedly broke loose from its moorings early this morning and drifted down Guemes Channel to Curtis Wharf. Crews have retrieved and returned the ship since.
10:51 a.m.: The storm has claimed a fourth life. Police in McCreary tell the Aberdeen Daily World that a 28-year-old man was crushed to death in his sleep by a tree that snapped during the storm and crash-landed on his trailer.
10:19 a.m.: Police: a Montesano police car and a Grays Harbor deputy's car were damaged by flying debris after a roof blew off a car dealership during the storm.
9:28 a.m.: The city of Olympia reports it has opened its Emergency Operations Center to deal with widespread storm damage.
9:01a.m.: NW Trek near Eatonville has closed for today and the weekend due toppled trees that are blocking the entrance and a power outage at the park.
8:43 a.m.: Garbage and recycling was being collected on a normal schedule in Seattle this morning, with only minor slowdowns reported in areas where streets or alleys have been blocked by storm debris.
8:07 a.m.: About 100,000 residents in Tacoma have no power. The outages are said t be scattered all over the city's service area.
7:52 a.m.: Mercer Island residents urged to stay home. Severe winds have caused fallen trees, downed power lines and power outages throughout Mercer Island. It is very likely that Mercer Islanders will not be able to leave the Island.
7:46 a.m.: Power outages as of now: Puget Sound Energy: 700,000, Seattle City Light: 171,000, Snohomish PUD: 95,000, Grays Harbor: 22,000.
7:45 a.m.: SR-20/Deception Pass Bridge reopens.
6:20 a.m.: Tacoma Narrows Bridge reopens.
5:58 a.m.: King County Emergency Management says at least 300 trees fell across roads during the windstorm. Metro Transit trolleys are not running. Flooding has damaged the West Point sewage treatment plant.
5:30 a.m.: Some road closures from the DOT:
SR 18 Westbound at Tiger Mountain: debris blocking all lanes
US 2 Westbound at Gold Bar -- debris blocking all lanes
SR 900 eastbound just east of May Valley Road, debris blocking all lanes
SR 530 at mp 50.5, debris blocking all lanes
SR 525 southbound at mp 16, debris blocking all lanes
SR-524 at 55th Ave, debris blocking all lanes
SR-169 southbound at 152nd Ave SE, debris blocking all lanes
SR-20 Sharps Corner to Mt Vernon, power out to all signals
SR-20 at Deception Pass, debris blocking all lanes
SR-11 at Ershig road, debris blocking all lanes
SR-9 at mile post 34, debris blocking southbound lane
4:46a.m.: DOT shut down Hwy 20 between Cornet Bay Rd in Island County to Deception Pass in Skagit County.
3:00 a.m.: Seattle City Light reports 160,000 people - or 50-percent of customers - are without power. No critical services are in the dark. Crews are being dispatched to restore service at locations where it is safe to work.
3:00 a.m.: A window at Sea-Tac Airport gets blown in by the wind. Airport officials vacate concourse "C" out of fear of further structural damage. Officials also report power outages in concourse "A" and south satellite, as well as a number of unspecified flight delays.
2:00 a.m.: North I-405 is closed at the West Valley Highway (Renton) due to downed trees across the freeway. (reopened later)
1:59 a.m.: One lane of southbound I-509 is back open at Seatac after a semi used a tow rope to break a tree and clear the road.
1:58 a.m.: Police shut down Seattle blocks around 5th and Madison where a metal beam fell from a building under construction and crushed several cars. No reports of injuries.
1:30 a.m.: SR 530 is closed in both directions in Darrington. Trees have fallen on power lines near the roadway.
1:00 a.m.: Sea-Tac reports gust of 69 mph. Sets record for highest gust ever recorded at airport, topping 64 mph gust from Inauguration Day Storm on Jan. 20, 1993
12:45 a.m.: DOT closes Tacoma Narrows Bridge for first time in its history due to high winds. Truck blown over on midspan.
12:10 a.m.: As of 8pm Thursday, all AMTRAK passenger train service between Seattle and Portland has been suspended for 48 hours, due to a mudslide at Titlow (just south of Tacoma) and numerous fallen trees along the route. Amtrak's Sounder route and routes north of Seattle will continue. Freight routes are also still running. Amtrak train service between Seattle and Portland will resume on Dec.16th at 8pm.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14th
11:20 p.m. Tacoma reports gust of 69 mph. Everett to 66, Alki to 67, Seattle to 54, to name a few.
10:55 p.m.: Seattle City Light reports 29,000 people without power.
10:30 p.m.: National Weather Service reports: Highway 3 closed north of Poulsbo due to fallen trees. Trees down on SR 522 near Paradise Lake Road. Highway 12 blocked near Rochester.
10:24 p.m.: Area police agencies are asking that people take the following steps: 1) For Power Outages, call your energy provider 911 dispatchers cannot speed the return of power, and the call volume is very high. 2) Dark Intersections. If signals go dark, it becomes a 4-way stop. They will not send an officer to direct traffic. There simply aren't enough. Slow down and take your time. 3) Flooding. They are aware of the flooded roadways. Unless leaking into a building, they do not need a call. Even if a home is being flooded, it will be some time before assistance can get to you. 4) Down Power Lines. Unless they are live, i.e. "Arcing and Sparking," call PSE or your specific energy provider. 5) Bad traffic conditions. Police have access to the traffic cameras, and are aware of the road conditions. There is very little that can be done, and several callers have tied up emergency lines to argue will call takers over something they cannot control.
Please do not call 911 unless it is truly an emergency. Fires, in-progress crimes, injury accidents, and so forth will take priority over weather related incidents. People should stay home unless absolutely necessary, as driving is more likely to make them part of the problem, rather than the solution.
10:16 p.m.: 520 Bridge reports gust of 63 mph. DOT is shutting down the bridge now.
9:31 p.m.: Viewer report: Trees fell into dorms "Q" and "R" at The Evergreen State College
9:21 p.m.: Latest information from Tacoma Fire Department: 4112 S. Steel St.—tree fell on car w/ occupants in it—no one was injured. 3564 E. Roosevelt (Lister Elementary) tree fell through one of buildings. 200 Norpoint Way, huge tree fell across road. 8400 E. D. St—110,000 volt line fell on the ground, started pole on fire, as well as setting a stop sign and grass on fire.
9:06 p.m.: Tacoma reports gust to 60 mph. Everett to 53. Seattle to 47.
9:00 p.m.: Tree on two cars on Camano Island—on Coho Lane
8:35 p.m.: Pierce county officials urge residents to stay home.
8:28 p.m.: DOT closes Hood Canal Bridge due to high winds.
7:58 p.m.: Snohomish County emergency dispatch says they are getting too many 911 calls for people reporting power outages. You should not call 911, but only call your power company. The only reason to call 911 for a power outage is if the power is out in a home where the person has a life threatening problem or illness.
7:28 p.m. : Police in Pierce County report two weather-related fatal wrecks. A man tried to avoid a falling tree, rammed into another and died from injuries. In the second incident, a tree fell onto a pickup with two occupants, killing one and throwing the other out of the car. That person was airlifted to the hospital.
6:55 p.m.: The DOT says a detour is now available on I-5 in Lewis County at State Route 508, just north of the closure. Trees are down, blocking the roadway.
6:46 p.m.: Viewer report: A 100 ft. tree came into his house in Federal Way.
6:45 p.m.: Viewer report: Kirkland Parkplace Cinemas parking lot flooded.
6:40 p.m.: Seattle City Light reports about 5,000 people without power in the Sheridan Beach and South Seattle areas.
6:38 p.m.: Puget Sound Energy reports about 12,000 without power in the Kitsap County/Thurston County and Port Orchard area; Bothell/Cottage Lake/Kirkland area. Scattered outages in Pierce and Thurston County.
6:30 p.m.: Viewer report: Travelers going southbound on Sandpoint Way approaching Magnuson Park are running into water gushing over the road as it comes down the hill from the Inverness area. This is forming a river that reaches up to the doors on smaller cars (some have flooded out and are being pushed by higher centered cars). All of this happens at a dark area of the road and drivers are in trouble before they realize what is happening.
6:30 p.m.: 31101 116th Ave SE, Auburn: Trees into several moblie homes.
6:30 p.m.: Reports that I-5 is now clear of standing water. Some problems with standing water on some I-405 on-ramps remain.
6:25 p.m.: 500 block of 30th Ave. E, Seattle: A woman was critically injured after she got trapped in a basement of her Capitol Hill home as water began to flood into the room and the door got jammed shut. Neighbors heard her scream and called 911. The water flooded to the ceiling and firefighters were not able to get access. They had to cut a hole in the floor above to pull her out, but she was under water for an estimated 8 minutes. Medics were performing CPR on her as they rushed her to Harborview.
6:15 p.m.: The southbound lanes of I-5 in Lewis County are closed south of Chehalis because of trees across the freeway. There is currently no detour, and no estimated time of reopening. The closure is just south of the intersection with State Route 508.
5:58 p.m.: SR-99 reopened; water drained. Mercer Street closed due to standing water under SR-99 overpass.
5:52 p.m.: Issaquah Pine Lake Rd: Tree fell into the power lines and across the road. This is near the entrance to Klahanee and SE 37th. Power out in area.
5:51 p.m. : The Coast Guard has closed a number of river bar entrances on the Washington and Oregon coasts, which means that
vessels cannot sail over the bars without permission.
5:39 p.m.: Everett has wind gust to 53 mph. Hoquiam reports gust of 55 mph.
5:36 p.m.: Report of power outages in Woodinville.
5:16 p.m.: Standing water blocks parts of SR-99 near Mercer Street and Battery Street Tunnel.
5:15 p.m.: More standing water reported on I-5 north near the Convention Center and near Spokane Street.
5:08 p.m.: Two trees down on SR-16 in Kitsap County (near Bremerton) -- one near Bethel Road and the other near Segwick Road -- is blocking all eastbound lanes.
5:05 p.m.: Weather has forced the cancellation of the passenger only service between Seattle and Vashon for the remainder of Thursday Dec. 14
4:55 p.m.: All lanes of northbound I-5 at Mercer Street closed due to standing water on the freeway.
4:35 p.m.: A mudslide moves down towards Elliott Ave on Queen Anne Hill near the area of W. Olympic Place and 9th Ave N.
2:30 p.m.: DOT warns it might close 520 Bridge at 11 p.m. if winds are stronger than 50 mph.
ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE PUBLISHED DEC. 15, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - A one-two punch of howling windstorms and heavy rains left at least three people dead and more than 1 million homes and businesses without power across Western Washington early Friday.
One woman died after being trapped in the flooded basement of her home, while falling trees killed two others.
The Evergreen Point floating bridge across Lake Washington east of Seattle remained closed early Friday and numerous other highways were blocked because of high water or windblown trees. The Hood Canal floating bridge and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were reopened early Friday after being closed Thursday evening.
"We're asking everybody to stay home," Pierce County sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said. "There isn't a place in east Pierce County that's not dangerous."
About 50 residents of Sunrise Assisted Living of Edmonds were evacuated after a tree came crashed through the third floor about 2 a.m., knocking out the fire main and flooding the building, Snohomish County emergency management officials said.
Residents were sent to other facilities operated by Sunrise in the area, many to one in Snohomish where employees were working through a power outage. No injuries were reported.
Hazardous material shipments were prohibited on Interstate 5 through Seattle and on some other major routes because of power outages, and one of the concourses and the south satellite terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were without electricity. Airport spokesman Robert Parker said he expected some flights to be canceled.
Seattle public schools and numerous suburban and outlying school districts with more than 300,000 students were closed Friday, as was The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
In Seattle, firefighters cut a hole in the floor to pull Kathryn Fleming, 41, out of her flooded windowless basement after neighbors heard her screaming that she was trapped, but she was pronounced dead after being taken to Harborview Medical Center.
"Somehow, the door shut, and she couldn't open the door because of the water pressure," Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick said.
In Pierce County, Harold J. Fox, 47, of Eatonville, was killed Thursday when a tree fell on his vehicle on State Route 7 near Roy, the Washington State Patrol said, and a woman died and her husband was critically injured when a tree fell on their pickup truck after they stopped because of fallen trees southeast of McKenna.
About 700,000 customers of Puget Sound Energy, the state's largest private utility, were without power early Friday and about three-fourths of the circuits were down in the company's nine-county service area, spokesman Roger Thompson said.
Other outages affected about 171,000 customers in Seattle, 120,000 in the Snohomish County Public Utility District north of the city, 70,000 to 80,000 to the south in Tacoma and 22,000 in the Grays Harbor PUD on the coast.
"If it's not the largest (outage), it's close to it," Seattle City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman said.
The hardest hit area was King County, which includes Seattle, where drenching rain accompanied the first wallop as the storm hit Thursday afternoon, slowing commuters to a crawl. The winds picked up again around midnight.
"That second one is when we saw the greatest number of outages, after midnight," said Dorothy Bracken, a Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman.
Repair crews were waiting for the winds to subside after daybreak before beginning to assess the damage and restoring power, and some are likely to be in the dark for three she said.
"They've been defeated in doing that because of the continued strong winds ... they never died down," she said. "It's just not safe."
Puget Sound Energy already had 50 to 60 two- and four-person repair crews from areas as far away as California and Nevada for a total of more than 180 crews primed to begin work following an earlier, less damaging wave of storms that hit Wednesday.
Outages from the earlier storm were all fixed before the one began Thursday, and the extra crews were kept rather than sent home, Bracken said.
Even with the outside help, though, some customers won't have their lights back on for days, he said.
Some of the outages were caused by lightning, an unusual circumstance in the Puget Sound region.
As the storm system passed over the region, "we've had some embedded thunderstorms that dropped impressive amounts of water," said Dennis D'Amico, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Winds gusted to 74 mph at the Hood Canal floating bridge, which links the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, 63 mph at the Evergreen Point floating bridge, one of two linking Seattle with the suburbs east of Lake Washington, 70 mph at Westport on the coast and more than 50 mph in downtown Seattle.
Rain drenched Qwest Field in Seattle shortly before the NFL game between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, leaving standing water on the field. About half an hour before kickoff, a power surge briefly knocked out electricity to the large video screens at each ends of the stadium.
Nearly an inch of rain fell in one hour at the weather service's north Seattle office. A record rainfall of 2.17 inches was set in Seattle for the date, breaking the old record of 1.24 inches on Dec. 14, 2002.
In the 24 hours ending at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Weather Service said the Mason County city of Shelton recorded 2.19 inches of rain, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received 1.09 inches, Olympia had 1.53 inches, Hoquiam on the coast had 1.83 inches, and Maple Falls in the Cascade foothills east of Bellingham had 1.46 inches.
The Coast Guard closed a number of river bar entrances on the Washington coast - including the Columbia River, Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the Quillayute River entrances - meaning vessels could not cross the bars without permission.
"The bars will remain closed until search-and-rescue capabilities are restored," the Coast Guard said in a news release.
East of the Cascade Range the same storm system battered the northcentral part of the state with high winds and heavy snow.
More than 10 inches of snow fell by late Thursday night in Okanogan County, where widespread power and telephone outages were reported and cellular phone service also was down in many areas. The entire Methow Valley was dark, and the sheriff's office in Okanogan switched to emergency generators for a time.