High winds, floods close highways, cut power, phones

Article published Dec 4, 2007
By Paige Dickerson, Peninsula Daily News

Winds whipped through most of the North Olympic Peninsula on Monday, and melting snow with drenching rain rose rivers toward flood levels.

Monday’s highest winds were reported at Clallam Bay, with gusts ripping through the town at 90 mph.

Winds are expected to be calmer today, and rivers are expected to recede.

“There will be numerous showers and it will be breezy but not as windy as [Monday],” said Johnny Burg, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“Through the Peninsula, it will be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers – but the winds will calm down.”

On the East End of the Peninsula, U.S. Highway 101 remained closed south of Brinnon, where a house was knocked off its foundation by floodwaters from a nearby creek.

On the West End, U.S. 101 was also closed at Lake Crescent and at Bear Creek near Sappho.

State Highway 110 between Forks and LaPush on the Pacific coast also was closed by floodwaters.

“We don’t have any times when these routes will reopen,” said Karri Workman, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Power was lost to about 6,000 Clallam County customers on the West End.

East Jefferson County power customers were luckier, although about 500 near Brinnon were reported without electricity until evening at the earliest.

By late afternoon, about 1,000 around Joyce had power restored, but customers in Forks, Neah Bay, Clallam Bay, Sekiu, and LaPush were likely to have no power through the night.

Most of those communities were without telephone service as well.

“We have two contract crews who came in from out of town, and we borrowed one crew from the city of Port Angeles,” said David Proebstel, chief engineer for the Clallam County Public Utilities District, which provides power to the West End.

Here is a rundown of storm-related problems in affected North Olympic Peninsula communities:
Neah Bay
Neah Bay residents also remained without power Monday night.

High winds created 40-foot waves near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

One of them hit a 720-foot container ship, the Matson Kauai, after the departing ship was an hour west of Neah Bay.

The ship sustained damage to its steering and navigation systems, and the Coast Guard dispatched the rescue tug, Gladiator, which escorted the Matson Kauai as far back as Port Angeles.

The freighter then picked up a Puget Sound Pilot and continued on to Seattle, escorted by the tug Jeffrey Foss, said Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth.

The incident is an example of why the tug is stationed at Neah Bay, Makah Tribal Councilman Micah McCarty said.

“If it can’t see where it is going or can’t steer, it isn’t able to make headway in the storm, which increases the chances of something disastrous happening,” said Chad Bowechop, Makah tribal ocean policy adviser.

“We were absolutely relieved that the tug was able to lend a hand in this case.”Brinnon

Reporters Valerie Gibbons, Jim Casey and Evan Cael contributed to this report.

Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

~ by fredfelleman on December 4, 2007.

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