Winds black out TV for thousands of Hawk fans
Saturday’s stormy weather brought power outages in scattered areas around the Puget Sound region and left small pockets of Comcast cable customers without television service during the Seahawks playoff game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Utility crews fought high winds and driving rain Saturday to try to restore power throughout the Puget Sound region as downed trees and damaged transformers cut service to thousands.
The weather, which is expected to ease Sunday, left Seahawks fans in scattered pockets around the area scrambling to find somewhere with cable-TV service where they could watch the big playoff win.
Early Saturday, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) reported more than 500 outages affecting nearly 40,000 customers in Woodinville, Redmond, Sammamish and other North King County suburbs, as well as Kitsap County, Whidbey Island and South King County.
Seattle City Light said the storm knocked out power to more than 28,000 of its customers.
“Our crews are in Beast Mode working hard to safely & quickly get your power back on!” PSE tweeted, a reference to the bruising style of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Within six hours, City Light crews had restored power to more than 20,000 Seattle customers, but problems continued through the day as winds caused further damage.
The outages came as wind gusts of up to 56 miles per hour were recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport just before noon Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Comcast said that of some 1 million cable-TV subscribers in Western Washington, about 13,000 residential customers and 200 business customers had no service for the entire Seahawks game.
Some were luckier.
Half an hour before the game started, a City Light map showing outages in Seattle’s Ravenna/Bryant neighborhood resembled the chart of an irregular heartbeat that zipped up and down from one block to the next, from Interstate 5 east toward Lake Washington.
In his Bryant neighborhood home, Ben Grossman-Kahn asked City Light on Twitter when to expect his power to return. He was surprised to receive individual tweets giving progress updates.
Still, seven minutes after kickoff, he was about to walk out the door and head for the nearest sports bar when the lights, and the TV, came back on.
“You guys are my heroes!!” he tweeted. “Power restored. Game on!!!”
“I was impressed,” Grossman-Kahn said after the game. “It was a cool moment of pride in cross-city services.”
Good neighborliness also came to the rescue.
Before the game, one of Dawn Wright’s neighbors just south of Northeast 75th Street knocked on her door to ask for help.
He had his mother-in-law and a bunch of friends over for the game and his power was out, but he saw Wright’s home was still lit.
The neighbor provided a long extension cord, and Wright plugged it in so the family and friends in the house behind could enjoy the game.
By the time the football game finished, PSE had mobilized more than 50 repair crews. It said it still had 10 circuits and one substation out, causing 705 outages systemwide, affecting 36,414 customers.
City Light was still working 40 separate outages affecting about 300 homes and businesses. Because of multiple downed power lines, a swath of Queen Anne Hill along Willard Avenue West was still without power into the evening.
By 9 p.m., outages in Seattle were down to about 250 customers, with the biggest chunk in Queen Anne. PSE had about 25,600 still without power.
City Light expected to restore power to all but maybe a few dozen customers by early Sunday. PSE didn’t have a time estimate.
The TV blackouts were scattershot. Comcast supervisor Ladonna Vaughan said the outages affected spots as small as single blocks.
Areas affected in the early afternoon included “in Seattle, four different block areas; in Bellevue, a couple of blocks; in Sammamish, five or six different blocks; two blocks in Kent; in Auburn, several blocks,” she said.
“It’s just sporadic,” said Vaughan.
Steve Kipp, Comcast vice president of communications, said the sporadic return and cutting out of service could indicate that crews somewhere along the line were splicing fibers together.
If a fallen tree has damaged or partly severed a cable, it may still be able to carry some services but not others.
The weather also affected transportation around the region, and in places impeded the work of utility repair crews.
Fallen trees closed roads in Woodinville and Port Orchard, and another closed an eastbound lane of Highway 520 in Redmond for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Three rivers had minor flooding. Only one — the Skokomish in Mason County — still had a flood warning in effect Saturday evening.
The Sunday forecast calls for more rain and wind, but not as much as Saturday. There will be rain on and off during the day Sunday, which will taper off in the evening, said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The wind is forecast at 10-15 mph out of the south, increasing to 15-25 mph in the afternoon, with gusts to 40 mph, he said.
Staff reporter Linda Shaw contributed, and material from The Associated Press was included. Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org