Storm’s onslaught pounds Peninsula’s Pacific coast, blows past Jefferson and Clallam counties
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In this photo by Bill Graham of the Jefferson County Public Utility District, PUD crews respond Saturday to a large tree felled by winds that severed overhead power lines along Coyle Road, knocking out power to an estimated 200 customers. The outage was one of multiple across the North Olympic Peninsula blamed on high winds.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

Three tribes along the Pacific coast of the North Olympic Peninsula completed work Saturday augmenting jetties and sea walls in preparation for a storm that blew in this weekend as well as future storms.

The Hoh, Quileute and Quinault worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday and Saturday to buttress the structures in preparation for predicted storm surges kicked up by expected 60 mph wind gusts.

Winds reaching 30 and 40 mph by Saturday had caused trees to fall on roads and on power lines — cutting off electricity in some areas — in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Trees blocked traffic for a time Saturday along U.S. Highway 101 near Lake Crescent and state Highway 112 in Clallam County, according to the state Department of Transportation, and state Highway 20 south of Port Townsend.

National Weather Service flood watches for both counties were in effect through Saturday night.

High wind and waves between 25 and 30 feet were expected along the west coast of the Peninsula on Saturday afternoon and evening, said Johnny Burg, a Seattle-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He predicted that gusty wind and heavy rains would to taper off to still wet but just breezy conditions by today and Monday.

On the Quileute reservation, Bruch and Bruch Construction of Port Angeles, which was brought in by an Army Corps Emergency Management Response team, placed 500 tons of large boulders known as rip rap along a stretch of a jetty that is historically at high risk of breaching during the storm, Quileute tribal spokeswoman Jackie Jacobs said.

The work, completed Saturday morning, had begun Friday morning, Jacobs said, 24 hours after the tribe had asked the Army Corps for assistance.

The jetty, built more than 50 years ago, protects the low-lying Quileute community of LaPush.

If a large breach happened at this portion of the jetty, Jacobs said the Quillayute River could break through at high water and create a new route for the river to the Pacific Ocean.

“This will place much of the beach that protects the tribe’s village at risk of significant erosion this winter,” Jacobs said.

Information was not available on Saturday about the situation of the Hoh tribe.

Also finished Saturday morning was work organized by the Army Corps on Quinault lands south of the Quileute.

Some 800 tons of rip rap was placed to be part of a secondary sea wall between the Quinault village of Taholah and the ocean, said Steve Robinson, Quinault spokesman.

The work started Friday morning, Robinson added, saying that about 150 homes and half a dozen businesses in Taholah were placed in jeopardy by the storm.

The Army Corps also organized the placement 750 tons of rip rap

A high wind warning was in place on the Olympic Coast until 7 p.m. Saturday, Burg said, with winds expected to reach between 30 and 40 mph and gusts of 60 mph possible.

A similar warning was also in place for Admiralty Inlet on the east side of the Peninsula, Burg said.

Tatoosh Island, off the northwest top of the Olympic Peninsula, saw recorded gusts between 60 and 65 mph Friday night and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Gusts between 40 and 45 mph had been reported Friday night and Saturday at the Quillayute Airport.

The rest of the Peninsula was under an wind advisory until this morning at 4, Burg said, with winds expected between 25 and 35 mph and gust of up to 50 mph.

Crews with the Clallam PUD were out Saturday responding to power outages.

“We’ve had and do have scattered outages on the West End,” PUD spokesman Michael Howe said.

“In fact they’re all due to high winds and tree limbs hitting the lines.”

At least five outages were reported between Friday night and Saturday morning, Howe said.

Power had been restored power by late Saturday for all but two groups of affected customers in Clallam Bay and Joyce.

The number of customers affected was not available Saturday morning, Howe said.

“They’re busy,” he said, referring to the three PUD crews out in the field Saturday.

Howe said any Clallam PUD customers experiencing outages should call 800-542-7859.

In Jefferson County, PUD crews were out in force Saturday responding to electrical power outages in the Dabob Bay and Quilcene areas of southeast Jefferson County, said Bill Graham, resource manager.

Graham said 12 PUD crew members were out in the field with another contingent of customer service staff taking outage calls from customers.

Many of the wind-felled power lines were along Coyle Road east of Dabob Bay, Graham said.

Thirteen spans of overhead power lines needed to be replaced.

“There were trees about 2 to 3 feet in diameter that fell on the lines and actually snapped the wire,” Graham said.

Graham estimated outages to have affected a couple hundred customers.

“We expect [the Coyle area] to be out probably at least another six to 24 hours,” Graham said Saturday morning, meaning the outage could reach into Sunday.

Graham said another 100 to 200 customers in the South Point area east of Coyle Road also lost power after lines came down there.

Wind gusts in this area topped 29 mph Friday night, the National Weather Service said.

As of late Saturday morning, Graham said had not heard of any outages in the Port Townsend area or west Jefferson County.

Any Jefferson PUD customers experiencing outages can call 360-385-5800, Graham said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 11. 2014 6:07PM
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