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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Pacific Northwest Storm Reports

    This memo was sent to the RTA Fourum staff by Moderator Judy, who lives in Hoquiam, Washington earlier today:
    Well, we're trying to survive the worst storm we've ever had in my memory. Probably eclipsing the Columbus Day Storm of 1963. We had hurricane winds....I think 80-90mph but I'm not real sure...for about 24 hours. Literally hundreds of trees are down including dozens of power poles that snapped off. Add to that, our major power from Bonneville Power Administration was cut off when three of their major power lines were also destroyed in the storm. They got one of these fixed last night.

    90% of the people in Grays Harbor County were without power for 2 days. Most still don't have it. The only reason why we have it back on already is because they got power to the downtown core first so grocery stores and banks could re-open and so that the hospital could get fully electrified again as they were running on emergency power levels only. I sometimes yearn to live in the country but these are times when it's nice to be close to the key areas of downtown so we get our power back on first.

    We're not used to two days without power in town. It's been interesting. Unfortunately, our chimney is cracked so we weren't able to burn a fire. With all the people without heat, we're lucky that it wasn't very cold. The storm brought in a Pineapple Express.

    Most areas still don't have power and they figure it might take 5 days for the entire county to have it back up and running.

    100% of the people in Pacific County just south of us are still without power. Bonneville doesn't think it will have the main powerline restored for them until sometime on Thursday.

    The amount of downed trees is incredible. Many roads are blocked. Most of the roads are slowly getting re-opened but it's still not really safe to drive much and they're recommending people try to stay home.

    Road Access Information:
    In fact, until this morning, if you had to get out of town, you really had to take a strange route. So many trees and powerlines were down across the portion of Hwy 12 between Aberdeen and Montesano that the road was totally closed. So, to get from Aberdeen to Montesano, you had to drive south on 101 towards Raymond until the 107 cut-off could take you into Montesano. Then you could drive on Hwy 12 for awhile but had to veer off around Elma because trees were over the highway there. Then drive the Monte-Elma Road for awhile. Then back onto Hwy 12 until McCleary. At McCleary you needed to veer off the Hwy and take the Kamilche Cut-off toward Shelton where you would meet up with 101 and then be able to go into Olympia.

    I believe Hwy 12 and Hwy 8 are open all the way to Olympia. Good thing because 107...the only route that was open from Aberdeen to Montesano...is now closed due to flooding. I understand a lot of the highway is only one lane open each way because they just cleared a path through the trees at this point.

    My sister lives in Chehalis and they are locked in due to extensive flooding on I-5 through there. Traffic needs to go east of the mountains through Yakima to get from Seattle-Portland. But they do have power anyway. I just heard on the news that it's still 7 feet deep over the freeway at Chehalis. Yikes!

    Lake Quinault is still cut-off from town and they hope to get the trees cleared off that highway by the end of the day today.

    A lot of the county roads are still closed. My husband spent yesterday with his chainsaw helping clear a long, private road where a lot of senior citizens live so they could get in-and-out if needed.

    County road crews are swamped. PUD crews, too. Both have called into other places for extra crews but this storm has hit so many places that extra crews are hard to find. Until today, it was pretty tough for them to even get here.

    One of our favorite restaurants, a little BBQ place that has won numerous regional awards was totally destroyed by a mudslide. It was almost to Olympia on Hwy 12.

    We've had at least two weather-related deaths. A man that was helping clear trees off of a blocked road was hit by a falling tree. And another man died when he lost power because he needed to breath with an oxygen machine and didn't have any back-up power.

    A PUD lineman was seriously injured when they were up in their bucket trying to repair a line and a tree fell on the bucket causing him to fall 40 feet to the ground. Helicopters couldn't come in at that time due to the wind so they had to drive him to Harborview in an ambulance. Unfortunately, the going was slow because they had to get out and cut away a path through the fallen trees to get him out of here. I haven't heard an update on his status.

    More flooding is predicted for later today when the river will crest. There are predicting as much as a foot or two of water in downtown Aberdeen. Hoquiam normally doesn't flood....we have a far superior drainage system....so, hopefully, we won't have to deal with that, too. Many people in outlying areas have been emergency rescued due to flooding. And those who live in flood areas who aren't flooded yet are urged to get themselves out before an emergency rescue is required.

    Anyway, it's been a heckuva interesting few days. I caught up on sleep and some reading by lantern. It was kinda like camping.

    The only holes in our emergency set-up were minimal. We had neglected to stock up on propane bottles and to make sure we had a full larger propane bottle for the BBQ after summer got over. So we had 3 partially empty of the smaller propane bottles and a partially empty bigger one on our BBQ. Since they were originally saying it might be as much as 5 days until we got power back, we were hesitant to use the propane for cooking and light unless it was really needed. So we used candles and our battery-operated lanterns as much as possible. And our dynamo flashlights and radios (batteries not needed, just cranking). So, no big deal except we didn't have bread for sandwiches. That would have been nice since we didn't want to cook. Anyway, note to selves....always keep extra propane bottles and some bread in the freezer. With just those items, we would have been totally fine with no complaints at all.

    We also have never invested in a generator because, since we live in town, we are rarely without power for longer than about 4-5 hours. We were getting worried about our freezer. We had just bought about 250# of grain-fed, free-range beef a few weeks ago and hated to lose it. Plus the salmon and clams and venison. This is where good neighbors come in. A new neighbor had a generator and let various neighbors use it for a couple of hours yesterday. We ran cords to our freezer and refrigerator for about 2 hours to get these cold again. So, luckily, we didn't lose anything. Nice neighbor! We will have to owe him a dinner or some nice gift for his kindness.

    Anyway, we now think a generator might be a wise investment in case this ever happens again. We've just never been hit this hard before.

    Our newspaper put out very small, limited page newspapers. The story of how they were able to get it out is quite interesting. If you're interested in some more details of the storm and the interesting story of how they got the newspaper out, you might check out the website. If you can find the photo of the BPA powerline that was down, it is pretty amazing. The steel is twisted like a pretzel.

    Anyway, I'll quit boring you with my little tale. It just goes to show that we all need to be prepared for most anything.

    Judy
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 12-05-2007 at 04:07 PM. Reason: deleted a personal blurb not necessary to story

  2. #2
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Primary Detour

    The primary advertised detour for I-5 all the way around via Yakima, but I believe this was chosen due to it's Interstate Highway designation. I'm not sure on the specific accessibility of any roads, but there are other state and federal highways that do not cross lowlands and may still be passable.

    I-5 is not expected to open until at least Friday, according to KIRO and KING TV in Seattle, although that depends entirely on structural damage to the 22 mile stretch of road that has been sitting under up to 10 feet of water in some locations. The road may end up being closed indefinably. I will do some research on road conditions that don't involve circumnavigating the Cascades, especially since temperatures are expected to begin dropping again as the Pineapple Express warmth clears out. If I find any official DOT reports that certain roads are open, I will pass them along.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Egg on my face (again)

    Brad,

    Thanks for staying on top of this developing story.

    As recently as Monday, I was suggesting to a new member, that....Weather outlook is looking pretty good for the rest of this week. in this thread....

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Roads and Trees

    I'm not sure how the rest of the PNW is doing because of our limited communication with the outside world. I wouldn't advise anybody going on backroads where the storm hit. Even if the road is clear right now, more trees could come crashing down. In our area, they are reporting some trees that the storm made lean but that didn't fall all the way down, are still falling. And you sure don't want to be on the road when it does. So they are advising that people stay off the roads and stay home, if possible, until all the damaged trees are removed.

    There are still lots of county roads blocked by falling trees. Crews are working as fast as they can. I know a lot of citizens are out helping clear their own roads and those of friends/neighbors, too. Just hope nobody else gets hurt. One of the deaths was a guy who was helping clear a neighbor's road and was hit by another tree that fell.

    Also, lots of areas are still going to see flooding. They're predicing that some of the roads here, near the coast, will be underwater later today when the crest hits here.

    So, between potential falling trees still a possibility and the potential flooding, I would advise anybody to just stay away from the area and stay off the roads for at least another day or two until these issues are more resolved.

    So far, I know four people whose cars were crushed in their driveway. Thank goodness they weren't in 'em when it happened!

    Last thing....it's very eerie and I'm concerned about what kinds of tragedies we might yet hear about because...I'm just a half-block off the major street through town that takes you out to the ocean beaches of our North Beach area, i.e. Ocean Shores, Copalis, etc. In the last hour 13 ambulances have gone by, driving like heck. 13!!!! It's very concerning. So please send out your prayers and good vibes.

  5. #5

    Default

    My thoughts are with you. We had a huge hurricane wreak havoc throughout the south of England a few years ago (actually, it must have been 20 years ago as I was still at school - eek) and it caused similar carnage and devastation. I remember it well but, thankfully, everyone pulled together and, eventually, we all got back on our feet. The landscape had been changed forever but so had the mentality of the people who lived through it. I guess we lost some and we gained some. I suspect it'll be the same over there. Fingers crossed that not too many more deaths are reported and that things start to return to normal asap.

  6. #6
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Backroads Detour Information - Prelim

    Here's the preliminary information using the Washington State Department of Transportation as a reference of road closures. Keep in mind I'm in Arizona, so publicly released information and Road Closures maps is all I have to go by, so use at your own risk.

    From WSDOT

    INTERSTATE 5 CLOSURE FROM EXIT 68 NORTH TO EXIT 88
    "I-5 - I 5 is closed in both directions from just north of exit 68 to exit 88 due to flooding. The exit ramps at milepost 68, to and from US 12, remain open to traffic for detour purposes. Recommended detours are I 90, I 82, and I 84. The closure will be in place for the next several days due to clean-up and repairs." -WSDOT

    According to the Washington State DOT, State Route 7 is open and can be traveled north from US 12. The Junction of US 12 and SR 7 is a few miles east of the closure on I-5. My personal recommendation, after looking at WSDOT Maps and comparing them to available routes on Google Maps is to avoid the area if possible. If you're traveling from outside of the area and can squeeze in a few extra hours, I do recommend heeding the recommendation to go around the Cascades. For those heading into Seattle, Bellevue, or Tacoma can use I-90 westbound from Ellensburg, WA.

    For those whose travels take them further north, I highly recommend going further north on US 97 over Blewitt Pass to Leavenworth, WA and then west over US 2 Stevens Pass to Monroe / Everett and Marysville. This will help get you around the increased traffic over Snoqualmie Pass. Please keep in mind these are two lane US Routes over mountain passes, so keep your ear to the weather report.

    If you're coming in from the East from Spokane, I might recommend detouring north through Wenatchee and Leavenworth on US 2 if you can afford the extra time, it might save you from the traffic over Snoqualmie that is bound to start getting bad. This is especially useful if you're travels are taking you north of the Seattle Area.

    For a quick overview of what you're looking at, I've compiled this Google Map. It is 'accurate' based on WSDOT reports as of 12/5/07 4:00 PM MST. The yellow shaded area is the some areas hit hardest, and should be avoided if you don't need to be there.

    Check with the Washington State Department of Transportation before you go, and yes, they do have 511 service if you're on the road.

    Another option that has opened up is Rail or Air between Portland and Seattle, per news sources in the area. Horizon Air is your service between Portland and Seattle-Tacoma International, and AMTRAK runs the rails.

    Keep it safe, follow official instructions, and for god sakes if it says the road is closed, just turn around. If you do take SR 7, keep an eye out for standing water, Police and Emergency Units, as well as National Guard trucks.

    This is the best info I have, I'll update everyone if I find more.

    -Brad
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-05-2007 at 09:51 PM. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default The Coast

    My advice for anyone traveling is unless you have a darned good reason, and a badge, stay away from the coast right now. Judy's right, it is a mess out there from what I'm hearing.

    My suggested detour is further inland, but the same caution applies. Take it with a grain of salt and only if you absolutely must. Otherwise, Yakima, Ellensburg, and Leavenworth would love y'all to visit!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Excellent map!

    What a great idea!

    I'm hesitant about people taking the bypass around the I-5 closure (Hwy 12 and SR 7). I agree that they should only do it if they really have to get through that area quickly without veering east of the mountains.

    My sister and her husband live in Chehalis...where the flooding is on I-5. He teaches in Onalaska which is on 508 (just north of and parallel to 12). Since the storm had not hit there as hard as it did here, they had school on Monday. He barely made it home due to the flooding on 508. It might be fine now but I still think that area might be a bit precarious.

    Plus, if a lot of traffic is detouring on those roads, the traffic is going to be really thick. It's just a narrow road without multiple lanes to absorb the heavy traffic that I-5 gets.

    So, yeah, go around the mountains if you can.

  9. #9
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default I hope I made that clear

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    What a great idea!

    I'm hesitant about people taking the bypass around the I-5 closure (Hwy 12 and SR 7). I agree that they should only do it if they really have to get through that area quickly without veering east of the mountains.

    My sister and her husband live in Chehalis...where the flooding is on I-5. He teaches in Onalaska which is on 508 (just north of and parallel to 12). Since the storm had not hit there as hard as it did here, they had school on Monday. He barely made it home due to the flooding on 508. It might be fine now but I still think that area might be a bit precarious.

    Plus, if a lot of traffic is detouring on those roads, the traffic is going to be really thick. It's just a narrow road without multiple lanes to absorb the heavy traffic that I-5 gets.

    So, yeah, go around the mountains if you can.
    Just trying to get information to people in the best way possible: a single glance.

    Multiple Points on the map contain the "Please go around, but..." disclaimer in their descriptions. I hope the abundant use of this recommendation makes it clear to anyone looking at taking it that they really need to consider going around.

    If this were the summer though, things would be easier. The route around Mt. Ranier Would be open!

    -Brad

  10. #10
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Video: How bad it is

    Video from KIRO TV Channel 7 out of Seattle, showing just how bad the flooding is along I-5, for those who want to take a look.

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