Outages remain after snow complicates repairs

Full repairs likely to take several more days

About 1,307 people were still without power across the North Olympic Peninsula by 5 p.m. Tuesday as crews continued to repair damage caused by a big blow overnight Friday that snuffed electricity to more than 22,000 people in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The Jefferson County Public Utility District reported 517 people still without power at the end of the day Tuesday.

Crews were prioritizing outages that affected the most people, according to Jameson Hawn, digital communications specialist with Jefferson PUD, who said it would likely take through the end of the week to restore power to all customers.

Clallam County PUD reported roughly 790 outages at that time, up from the roughly 100 outages the day before as snow hit lower elevations overnight Monday.

In an update just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, the PUD said repairs likely will take through the afternoon and into Wednesday before all customers have power restored.

“Incoming outage reports are slowing so crews are making progress,” the update said. “There are quite a few areas that we haven’t been able to look at today to assess damage from the recent snow so it’s difficult to give an accurate update.”

On Monday afternoon and evening, snow moved in even as crews in both counties worked to repair damage done by heavy wind and rain over the weekend. Jefferson County was working to repair more than 1,600 outages Monday morning, but Hawn said as snow set in, that number went up to 2,600.

“That snow did not help us at all,” Hawn said. “Dispatch has been working around the clock.”

Hawn said the county’s repairmen are being aided by crews from Mason County Public Utility District No. 1 and private contractors Olympic Electric Co, based in Port Angeles, and Palouse Power, based in Quincy.

Over a dozen power poles were disabled over the past few days, Hawn said, with more expected as crews continue repairs.

Hawn said the PUD’s Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency during a meeting Tuesday morning. The move would allow the utility to purchase more materials to address the situation. The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners declared an emergency at their meeting Monday.

In the outage update Tuesday, Jefferson PUD said the recent weather, “has been one of the most damaging storms in the PUD’s history of being in the electric business. All of Jefferson County went out around 11 p.m. Friday night, and the next morning 12,000 customers were still out. The next few days saw slow gains.”

Clallam PUD communications manager Nicole Hartman said crews were focused on the outages affecting the most people, and that it would take until today to identify all the individual outages.

“They need to patrol the lines to look for the fault,” Hartman said of the smaller outages.

Hartman said customers who are still without power should first check their breakers and then contact the PUD at 360-452-9771 to report the outage.

Snowfall

Snowfall across the North Olympic Peninsula overnight Monday varied depending on location, with higher elevations reporting higher volumes of snow, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Data from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network show one observer on Lauridsen Boulevard in Port Angeles reporting half an inch of snow, while another further up the hill on Olympic Avenue reported 3 inches.

“One observer had 6.6 inches,” said NWS forecaster Mike McFarland, who said that observer was likely at an elevation of 1,000 feet.

Jefferson County had less snowfall, McFarland said, with only 1-2 inches reported in the Chimacum area.

Clearer weather is expected through the rest of the week, McFarland said, with cool temperatures and mostly sunny skies through the weekend.

But temperatures at night will reach below freezing, and officials have expressed concerns about people being unable to heat their homes.

How to get warm

In Port Angeles, Serenity House, which typically caters to the unsheltered population, offers shelter services to all when temperatures reach a certain level, high or low, according to Will Bunch, a receptionist at the shelter.

“It’s pretty much open to anyone, even if they don’t stay here,” Bunch said. “If they’re just needing warming or cooling, that’s for anyone.”

During Monday night’s cold, Bunch estimated an additional seven to 10 people arrived at the shelter.

Robin Pangborn, shelter manager for Olympic Community Action Programs, runs the warming centers in Port Townsend and Sequim, both of which she said had seen an uptick in users recently.

“This year already I’m having five or six a night,” Pangborn said, adding that she had worked to increase awareness of the centers’ availability.

In Port Townsend, a warming center is being operated alongside the overnight shelter located in the lower level of the American Legion Building at 209-A Monroe St.

The warming center operates when temperatures are 35 degrees or below and is open to adult individuals but not children, Pangborn said. The shelter is open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The Sequim center is located and facilitated by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, at 525 N. Fifth Ave., and is open from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Minors are allowed if accompanied by adults. Pangborn noted the Sequim center was not an overnight shelter and said there are no beds available there.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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