Roughly 1,700 households were still without electricity Monday afternoon as utility crews in Clallam and Jefferson counties worked to restore power following stormy weather over the weekend.
Most of the outages were in Jefferson County, which experienced an almost complete outage affecting more than 22,000 people on Friday and Saturday. The board of county commissioners unanimously approved an emergency declaration Monday morning.
Debris on lines
Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management Director Willie Bence told commissioners Monday that because the storms were relatively early in the winter storm season, high winds had knocked loose a considerable number of branches and other debris which damaged power lines.
Bence said he was unable to provide a cost estimate for the repair efforts so far but that a county emergency declaration would begin the process of applying for state and federal emergency relief funds.
“It doesn’t guarantee compensation,” Bence said of the emergency declaration. “We’ll go to the state, then the feds. This is a step in that process.”
With additional winter weather expected, Bence said additional outages and repair costs are likely.
Bence said in a later interview that 1,642 customers in Jefferson County were still without power as of Monday morning, and he couldn’t say when power would be restored. Many of the outages were in rural parts of the county, Bence said, and heavy, wet snow known to damage power lines was expected at lower elevations.
“They’re hoping to have everyone (with power restored) today or tomorrow,” Bence said. “But we can’t make a distinct promise.”
The county has a resource line for people whose power is still out, Bence said, and although staff cannot provide an estimate on when power might be restored, they can answer questions and potentially connect residents with resources if needed. The number for the resource line is 360-344-4790.
Far fewer customers lost power in Clallam County, with 8,000 people without power at one time over the weekend, according to Nicole Hartman, communications manager for the county Public Utility District.
Hartman said Monday morning that 89 customers were without power, mostly in the eastern part of the county around Sequim and Sequim Bay.
“We’re hoping it won’t be until after dark, but we can’t say with certainty,” Hartman said of fully restoring power.
“We are continuing to get reports of trees down, branches down,” she said.
Snow was reported on Monday to have fallen overnight in higher elevations, with 4 inches reported in some areas.
Snow was expected at elevations of 500 to 800 feet Monday afternoon and evening, according to National Weather Service forecaster Carly Kovacik, who said the likelihood of snow will increase as temperatures drop overnight.
“The good news is most of the shower activity should end at daybreak,” Kovacik said. “We’re not looking at much all the way through the remainder of the week.”
Weather today is predicted to be partly cloudy with increasing sun, and Kovacik said breezy conditions could be expected across the Peninsula into the afternoon.
The snotel site at Hurricane Ridge showed 13 inches of snow. The road is closed due to snow. Winter snow plow operations begin after Nov. 24.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at email@example.com.