By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Park contractor Barnard Construction of Bozeman, Mont., had planned to drill holes Friday to hold explosive charges for continued blasting of the lower 50 feet of the once 210-foot-tall edifice.
But high winds barreling through the narrow canyon southwest of Port Angeles prevented a crane from safely lowering personnel to the top of what's left of the upper dam, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said.
“[Crews] were planning on starting blasting again sometime this past weekend, but the wind and the weather made that impossible,” Maynes said
Blasting will resume this week, but the date and time has not been set, Maynes said.
Removal of the Glines Canyon Dam and the 108-foot Elwha Dam are central to National Park Service's $325 million restoration of the Elwha River.
Dam removal began in September 2011, and the century-old Elwha Dam was completely gone by March 2012.
Removing the rest of Glines Canyon Dam will open the upper reaches of the Elwha River to migrating salmon, providing miles of pristine habitat for fish and other animals within Olympic National Park.
A scheduled fish migration window put a hold on dam removal from Nov. 1, 2012 to Jan. 1 to prevent fish mortality from high sediment levels.
The next fish window will begin in May.
“At this point, we don't really have a firm schedule of when that blasting is going to take place.
“They're going to try to do it as soon as they can.”
Separate wind bursts Friday evening and Saturday resulted in multiple power outages in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
With 47 mph winds whipping through Glines Canyon on Monday, Maynes estimated that blasting would resume no sooner than midweek.
“It may end up being later, depending on how quickly the wind kind of calms down,” Maynes said.
“It's really is weather dependant.”
Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said the winds were already dying down Monday afternoon.
“I would say probably by tomorrow it should be a lot better,” Burg said.
Maynes described a “multi-step process” in which the contractor will drill holes for dynamite on top of what's left of the 87-year-old dam.
The next blast will not result in the release of extra water from the former Lake Mills reservoir bed.
Instead, it will knock out parts of the dam that are standing above the existing water line, Maynes said.
The three-year dam removal project is still on schedule to be finished before the contract expires in September.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.