NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Governor Gregoire declares state of emergency in response to winter storms

Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire pro­claimed a win­ter storm emer­gency this morn­ing, fol­low­ing a series of events that have forced schools and offices to shut their doors and made many roads impassable.

“This is pure­ly a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure,” Gre­goire said in a news release.

“So far, we haven’t received any requests for state assis­tance – but we know weath­er con­di­tions are rapid­ly chang­ing. I want to make sure we have every resource avail­able to ensure our com­mu­ni­ties are safe. This procla­ma­tion would allow us to acti­vate the Nation­al Guard if we need to.”

“It also allows state agen­cies to respond quick­ly to any storm-relat­ed requests from cities and coun­ties for state assis­tance. A brief waiv­er of the restric­tions on dairy truck dri­vers’ work hours is need­ed now to avoid ship­ment delays that could mean the loss of near­ly $1 mil­lion a day for the state’s dairy industry.”

The procla­ma­tion also allows the State Emer­gency Oper­a­tions Cen­ter at Camp Mur­ray to be acti­vat­ed to coor­di­nate the state’s response to the win­ter weather.

Puget Sound Ener­gy, the state’s largest util­i­ty, said that tens of thou­sands of its cus­tomers were still with­out pow­er fol­low­ing the onset of this morn­ing’s ice storm, which is def­i­nite­ly not help­ing mat­ters. Here’s PSE’s lat­est update:

Puget Sound Ener­gy crews Thurs­day morn­ing are work­ing under extreme­ly dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. Trees and limbs, weighed down by ice-encrust­ed snow, are break­ing off and dam­ag­ing pow­er lines, result­ing in new pow­er out­ages to tens of thou­sands of homes and businesses.

Due to haz­ardous field con­di­tions with falling limbs and trees, some PSE crews on Thurs­day morn­ing have need­ed to stay clear from work­ing near trees, imped­ing dam­age assess­ment and repair work. Crews will resume their work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

As of 11 a.m., PSE is respond­ing to 515 out­age loca­tions affect­ing approx­i­mate­ly 184,000 cus­tomers. Hard­est hit areas are in Thurston and Pierce coun­ties and parts of King Coun­ty. Since heavy snows began on Tues­day morn­ing, PSE has restored pow­er to approx­i­mate­ly 51,000 cus­tomers in West­ern Washington.

PSE has request­ed 140 addi­tion­al pow­er line crews from oth­er parts of the coun­try to assist with repairs and restora­tion work, which is expect­ed to extend well into the week­end. There are 75 four-per­son pow­er line crews, 27 two-per­son tree crews and 76 ser­vice­men avail­able and assist­ing with restora­tion efforts.

We appre­ci­ate our cus­tomers’ patience as we work to repair pow­er as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, with safe­ty our top priority.

Peo­ple who need to report a pow­er out­age, should call Puget Sound Ener­gy at 1–888-225‑5773.

WSDOT says the ice storm is affect­ing the entire state. It is try­ing its best to keep roads clear, but cau­tions that downed tree limbs and col­li­sions are mak­ing trav­el very dif­fi­cult on state highways.

Sound Tran­sit has been forced to stop oper­at­ing its Taco­ma Link street­car due to ice buildup on the wires. Most of its Express bus runs are also on reroute due to the storms. The same goes for King Coun­ty Metro and oth­er local bus agencies.

The Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice warns we’re still not out of the woods:

A WARM FRONT WILL CONTINUE TO SPREAD RAIN OVER PORTIONS OF WESTERN WASHINGTON THROUGH EARLY THIS AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN BELOW FREEZING WITH FREEZING RAIN EXPECTED AT THE SURFACE. AREAS FARTHER NORTH INCLUDING EVERETT…ADMIRALTY INLET AND EASTERN STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA WILL SEE SNOW AT TIMES. PRECIPITATION WILL EASE THIS AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES WILL GRADUALLY MODERATE TONIGHT…RISING ABOVE FREEZING. ANOTHER STRONG SYSTEM WILL BRING HEAVY SNOW TO THE MOUNTAINS ON FRIDAY.

Stay home if at all possible:

AN ICE STORM WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF ICE ACCUMULATIONS WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. TRAVEL IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. COMMERCE WILL LIKELY BE SEVERELY IMPACTED. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL…KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT…FOOD…AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. ICE ACCUMULATIONS WILL LIKELY LEAD TO SNAPPED POWER LINES AND FALLING TREE BRANCHES THAT ADD TO THE DANGER.

Pacif­ic NW Por­tal’s Extend­ed Weath­er page has lots of use­ful links for deal­ing with win­ter weath­er, along with the lat­est sev­en-day Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice fore­cast and updates from trust­ed weath­er blogs.

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One Ping

  1. […] Gov­er­nor Gre­goire declares state of emer­gency in response to win­ter storms […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for January 20th, 2012 :: January 20th, 2012 at 9:33 AM